AUSTIN, Texas - The Mayor of Austin said it's an "urban myth" that homeless people move here from other cities, but program directors in at least two major cities with growing homelessness confirm they provide relocation assistance for the homeless. In many cases, those people are moving to Texas.
“Every professional that I talk to in this field tells me that that's an urban myth,” Mayor Steve Adler said in an interview with Fox 7 Austin in August.
He claims the majority of homeless people in Austin became homeless while living here, but members of the homeless community say otherwise.
“There's people coming from North Carolina, Washington, Virginia, I come from Galveston myself,” said Clyde Cates who has been homeless for the past three years.
“There's a lot of people from other places, but there's people from Austin, too,” said Christopher Ackerson who has been homeless for the past 10 months.
Some of those other places include New York City and San Francisco.
The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing in San Francisco said 30 percent of their homeless population became homeless before moving to the city. They started the "Homeward Bound" program to help some of them move again, to a place where they have family or friends that can help them find housing. 230 people in that program have been relocated to Texas since 2015.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Services in New York City said they have relocated 12,000 people to other places through their Special One Time Assistance program. More than half of them moved out of state, to places that include Texas' capital city.
In a statement, DSS spokesperson Isaac McGinn said:
"Any American, including any New Yorker experiencing homelessness, has the right to seek housing where they can afford it and employment where they can find it. Our city remains committed to using every tool at our disposal to help these families and individuals find stability in the ways that work for them, including through relocation and rehousing programs that date back decades."
“I think that it's kind of a tragedy that it's kick the can down the road and send somebody to another place and tell them to fix the problem,” said Will Hyatt, a House the Homeless board member.
The SOTA program provides one year's full rent upfront, but after that's used up, people have to find a way to survive on their own.
Hyatt said that does little to treat any of the underlying causes of homelessness.
“We have to work together, cooperatively, in order to address the problems and not just move the people around there either because that's not fair to do that,” Hyatt said.
SOTA has relocated homeless people to 32 states and Puerto Rico, while Homeward Bound has helped people move to 48 different states.