Beginning in June of 2019, a new ordinance impacting the homeless population in Austin, Texas was enacted. Homeless individuals are now permitted to camp on Austin streets, and officers only have the ability to issue a ticket if people are blocking pathways, preventing public health or posing as a safety hazard. Additionally, the city deemed it legal for the homeless population to panhandle, unless the individual is acting in an aggressive manner.
These new ordinances raised controversy within Austin’s city limits. Concerns are being expressed that this will, in fact, lead to further aggression, compromising the safety of the public.
It is possible that with a rising homeless population in Austin and changing laws, businesses and organizations can suffer. With the existing circumstances, the safety of customers located in public spaces surrounding a business, such as sidewalks, can easily be questioned.
According to CBS Austin, Craig Staley, co-owner of Royal Blue Grocery says there is a rise of homeless people around his six Austin store locations. Staying open late has become dangerous for both his customers and employees. Staley predicts he will begin closing earlier due to the safety concerns, which will cause a loss of business.
Austin residents raise the question of whether or not homeless camps will begin appearing locally as a result of the new ordinance. Seattle, Washington faces this problem, and Austin could be next.
We don’t believe all homeless individuals to be harmful but urge safety for all residents and business owners alike. It’s important to be aware of laws and ordinances impacting public spaces and safety, always keeping yourself informed and a top priority.