Voters in Austin, Texas are headed to the polls to cast their vote in a May 1 election that will decide whether the city reinstates a public camping ban.
Austin’s homeless population has grown significantly over the last decade as the city has grown, housing prices have risen, and local officials have relied on outdated and failed federal programs and policies to try to curb the crisis. The city of Austin, led by a zealously left-wing city council and mayor, Steve Adler, has followed in the footsteps of west-coast cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles, all of which have exacerbated their homelessness problems through bad public policy that encourages homelessness and its attendant problems of drug abuse, public disorder, and crime.
The increasing number of people sleeping on the streets in Austin became even more apparent two years ago when the Democrat-dominated city council decided to remove a decades-old ordinance banning public camping, as well as decriminalizing panhandling. Shortly after the city lifted the ban, homelessness in Austin not only reached a 10-year high but citizens and downtown businesses, many ravaged by government-mandated lockdowns, began to complain that the groups of tents set up on streets, sidewalks, in parks, and other public areas were magnets for trash, crime, drug abuse, mental health crises, and aggression towards Austinites.