People living at state homeless camp 'losing faith'

People living at the sanctioned homeless campsite in East Austin said they are not getting what they were promised when they moved in. 

“100 percent I'm losing faith,” said Robert Rhodes, who was one of the first people to move into a garage at the property.  

Rhodes once thought of the campsite as a sanctuary, but now he’s worried it may be a dead end. 

“I mean; I've been here from day one. What's that? Over a month ago. It just went downhill after the first couple weeks,” Rhodes said.  

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More than 40 people are now staying at the campsite, which opened on state property off Highway 183 near Montopolis in early November. 

The governor's office said the camp would provide porta-potties, hand washing stations, access to health care, social workers, and charities who would deliver food multiple times a day. 

Rhodes said when he got there, Texas DPS told him they would also bring in showers and access to electricity. However, he said he hasn't seen any caseworkers or showers, and last weekend Texas A&M Forest Service started restricting the use of outlets.

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“Get us electric like we were promised. Get us the showers like we were promised. Get us the social services coming here like we were promised,” said Rhodes.   

The Forest Service said having 12 extension cords running across the property was a fire hazard, but orders to set hours and limitations for what electricity could be used for came from the governor's office. 

“If it keeps up like this, I'm thinking me and my friend will be packing up our stuff and going back out there to the woods again,” Rhodes said. 

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Although there is no shower or electricity in the woods, Rhodes said he stays close to places that allow him access to those things. He used to charge his phone at Starbucks and shower at the public pool but said the state camp is too far away from those options and he feels like no one is listening to his concerns. 

“We can't count on the city because they drag their feet, so Governor Abbott needs to do something,” said Rhodes.  

He hopes that happens soon before he moves back into the shadows for good. 

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“We are forgotten. We are the forgotten. It's sad,” Rhodes said.   

The governor's office did not respond to requests for a comment about the services offered and concerns raised.