Nearly 800 at Downtown Austin Alliance town hall forum on homeless rules

Nearly 800 people with concerns about Austin's homeless problem gathered downtown for a town hall-style forum on Wednesday morning.

In June, the Austin City Council made changes to ordinances they felt criminalized the mere status of being homeless. It's now legal to camp, sit or lie in most public places.  

Although Mayor Steve Adler is hoping some restrictions on where people can and cannot be are on the way -- you just won't get a ticket for violations.

At Wednesday's Downtown Austin Alliance town hall, Adler says housing is the solution.  

Adler, along with Council Members Greg Casar, Ann Kitchen and Kathie Tovo, made opening remarks and then community-members could ask questions.

"I would ask the Council if you guys would consider reversing the camping ordinance," one speaker said. "From my perspective and from a lot of my neighbors things have gotten really bad."

"I've got a man eating out of the garbage can in front of my gym every day.  He's bleeding because he has tract marks -- he needs immediate help," someone said.

Others were concerned about the harmful rhetoric toward the homeless.

"We are actually a threat to the health and safety of our homeless neighbors. They are literally dying out on the streets," one speaker said. "And I think there's a lot of ignorance about who our homeless neighbors really are."

There are two more forums on homelessness: one on August 29th at the LBJ Library and one on September 3 in South Austin.

Adler has released a plan with some ideas for where people cannot camp -- places like Congress Avenue, Sixth and near the ARCH.