Local NewsStatewide NewsGovernor Abbott Directs State Agency to Remove Homeless from Underpass Encampments

The decision comes after months of sparring with Austin's city government over its homeless camping and lying ordinance change.
October 29, 2019
After months of back and forth between Governor Greg Abbott and the City of Austin over the city’s homeless camping policies, Abbott has followed through on his promise to intervene if no meaningful improvement had been made by November 1.

Confirmed to KXAN’s Phil Prazan, the Texas Department of Transportation will begin cleaning out homeless encampments under state overpasses. Paper notices will go up at those encampments today.

According to KXAN, the notices read, “Any items left behind will be considered abandoned and removed. Use the be safe and seen bags to take important items, such as documents and medications, with you. For bag information contact Integral care.”

In a statement to The Texan, Abbott spokesman John Wittman said, “Governor Abbott has been clear that unless the City of Austin demonstrated improvements to protect public health and safety, the state of Texas would step in to address this crisis. With today’s notice from TxDOT, the Governor is following through on his promise.”

Homeless individuals being removed from those grounds will be directed to various shelters and other organizations that care for the welfare of those living on the streets

The Texan Tumbler

Wittman added, “In addition to these short-term services, the Office of the Governor is working with a coalition consisting of private sector and faith-based organizations on longer-term solutions.”

This announcement comes 11 days after the city council voted to re-implement some aspects of the camping ban it rescinded on July 1. The new limitations went into effect on Monday.

Of the estimated 2,250 homeless individuals in Austin, some of the most visible are those camping under overpasses.

“These notices are the first step to clear encampments from underpasses throughout the city, while providing those experiencing homelessness with access to resources for services and care,” Wittman concluded.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

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