Homeless: How did we get here?

I live in Austin, TX, and have noticed, as I am sure many have, homeless people are more visible in my daily routine than ever before.  A few years ago I heard that Austin allowed people to panhandle at the corner, so it was more desirable for people in Dallas or Houston to make their way to Austin, because there would be more opportunities for people to get help, but sometime around 2019 it seemed like everything changed, and it sent me on this path to learn, “How did we get here?” Here’s a brief outline:

  • On October 17, 2019, the City Council of Austin made several revisions to the city ordinance that prohibits camping in public areas.  Other ordinances, including those prohibiting obstruction on sidewalks in the downtown area and aggressive confrontation, remain unchanged.  The ordinance changes went into effect on October 28, 2019. 
  • I was encouraged to see how many resources the City of Austin have directed toward homelessness in our community. City staff work everyday on programs and with partners to help those experiencing homelessness. 
  • In addition, there are a number of data points the City of Austin is trying to keep track of, and in general it appears that the number of homeless in Austin are increasing. 

If you would like more current information you can glean data from 2020 that was provided by the Statesman and you will see that Austin is 11% increase.

At the moment I am still trying to find a more detailed explanation of what Mayor Adler is trying to accomplish, but I am having a hard time tracking down the information.  The best I have found is a quote by Adler that states, ““We need to invest in affordable housing and prevention efforts that make homelessness rare; and in diversion and rapid re-housing programs that make homelessness brief; and we need to significantly invest in permanent supportive housing that ensures that homelessness is non-recurring for all those that successfully rise above that experience,” but I haven’t been able to see the details of what that plan would look like specifically.