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Homeless people can camp on Austin sidewalks, public spaces starting today

KJCE Radio Austin logo KJCE Radio Austin 7/1/2019
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AUSTIN (Talk1370.com) -- Changes to Austin ordinances involving sleeping, camping, and lying in public areas go into effect Monday.

The changes to the ordinances, which were voted on during the June 20 city council meeting, mean that police can only issue a citation if the person is posing a hazard or danger to the public, or blocking a public walkway. Camping on private property or in city parks is still not allowed.

Proponents of the ordinance changes say that they will help break the cycle of homelessness. Opponents say the changes could have unintended consequences, and even Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has put the city on notice, saying in a tweet that "at some point cities must start putting public safety & common sense first." Abbott threatened that state leaders will act to override if Austin, or any other Texas city, "permits camping on city streets."

One place where camping in public spaces is still banned is City Hall. Rules prohibiting camping there were put into place in 2012 after Occupy Austin protesters refused to leave.

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