South Austin small businesses hit again as homeless come back after cleanup

Small businesses in South Austin are trying to recover after having their windows smashed. This isn’t the first time the owners have dealt with homeless-related crimes in the area.

The employees in the area said a church nearby feeds the homeless, so they flock there every day, but they also linger and cause destruction at night.

Video shows multiple people walked up to the Headspace Salon in South Austin and threw rocks into the front glass.

"In the last probably two months, we’ve had, easily, well over $10-15,000 worth of damages," Headspace Salon and Co-op Owner Laura North said.

She said, as a small business, it hits hard.

"They’re just coming there and smashing things with rocks and just walking off and not understanding for small business owners that is a huge, huge financial hit for us, and it’s just not sustainable," North said.

Other businesses nearby have been dealing with similar issues.

"The guy came around and that’s when we had the rocks, we saw him on camera, we got him right over here. He threw it on the second floor window and busted out the window in the hallway, and then he busted out the window around this corner, and he busted out that window," said Jason Dawkins, an estimator who works in a building that was vandalized.

"We see a lot of drug use, a lot of open sexual behavior, a lot of defecation and urinating in public areas and a lot of that stuff, and I will say it seems like some of that has gotten better, but it seems like definitely the vandalism and the kind of destruction, especially later in the evening has gotten significantly worse," North said.

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North said this chaos is caused by homeless people and the city is to blame.

"We need the city to help. I feel like they kind of helped create this problem, and we’re just in the wake of the destruction," North said. "I wish I could send the mayor or city council members the bills for all the vandalism over here, but that’s not going to happen."

In February, the city cleaned up the encampment located at Pack Saddle Pass and Highway 71. North said there was a sense of relief.

"We got comfortable, and it felt so good to be able to sleep at night and I didn’t have to worry about getting calls for break-ins and just terrible things," North said.


Since the Housing-Focused Encampment Assistance Link Initiative, or HEAL, started in June 2021, 618 people have moved from high-risk encampments to the city’s Southbridge and Northbridge shelters. North said the problem is back, though.

"The city will step in kind of help very briefly, and it does not last long, and then it just goes right back to how it was before," North said.

Dawkins said his patience is wearing thin.

"You got all this homeless money that you’re saying you’re going to do something with, do something with it, put your money where your mouth is, put our money where your mouth is and do something with it and take care of the issue," Dawkins said.

The employees in the area said in order to deter this behavior, they need police patrolling the area constantly.