"We're still humans": Austin man reacts to camping ban reinstatement

The City of Austin will reinstate its homeless camping ban after voters approved Prop B earlier this month.

One man experiencing homelessness downtown told FOX 7 Austin he has no idea where he’s going to go.

"I brought my wife here to start all over hoping that I can start a life," said Bradley Lewis.


Lewis has lived under I-35 with his wife and dog for the past 5 months. It's not a lot, but he says it's home. "I'm trying to do the best I can. I’m a retired vet for this country and this is my reward. I'm on the streets," he said.

Starting Tuesday, the City will begin its 4-phase plan to reinforce its homeless camping ban making it illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks, panhandle at night, and camp anywhere downtown or near UT. The ban will make Lewis's home illegal.

The City of Austin released this statement along with the plan: 

"The plan has been developed through a coordinated effort among multiple departments—including the Austin Police Department, the Homeless Strategy Division, the Homeless Outreach Street Team, the Downtown Austin Community Court, Parks and Recreation Department, Austin Resource Recovery and others. The plan is focused on a safe and humane approach that helps persons experiencing homelessness comply with the new ordinances."

"They did what they had to do, but if you're taking care of your business, you clean, you're just trying to survive, you're just trying to live then what's the problem? Until they can be able to get up on their feet, what's the problem with that?" said Lewis.

Phase one of enforcing the camping ban will run for 30 days. During that time, Austin Police will provide resources and verbal warnings. In phase two, APD will begin handing out warnings and citations.


APD may start arresting people and clearing campsites in phase three and phase four will allow APD to continue with citations and arrests.

"They consider this as a disease. We are all a disease. They say we are a disease. That's why we are out here. That's why they won't touch us," said Lewis.  

Bradley says he has been trying to get back on his feet for a while with no luck. This ban just adds to everything he's already been struggling with. He plans to pack up his things and live out of his car until he can figure out a plan.

He hopes the City of Austin helps those experiencing homelessness and does not just write off the homeless situation in the city.

"Help us. Don't imprison us. Don't destroy us. We are still humans. We cannot help what happened to us. I didn't ask for this," said Lewis.

City Manager Spencer Cronk will hold a press conference on May 11th to give more details on the homeless camping ban plan.