Homeless Crisis of California Spreads to Austin Tx
The Austin Homeless and the Real Estate Market
Are the Austin homeless and real estate prices linked? Many think so. Apparently, shelter is becoming more scarce in Austin Tx. After all, the median home price by some accounts is $407,400, according to a monthly report from the Austin Board of Realtors, published on June 20, 2019. The median home price numbers are all over the board, but no one can argue that they are dramatically increasing and setting records. With so many companies and people from the coast moving in, elevating the price of residential housing, what is happening to Austins’ long-standing residence?
Many in Austin are left homeless with nowhere to go. The inability to provide enough affordable shelter for low-income earners is causing people to take to the streets making up the Austin homeless population. The Austin police department has had the enormous burden of enforcing city ordinances, which made it illegal to camp in public, lie or sit on sidewalks, and aggressively panhandle. This resulted in an endless shuffle of people by law enforcement, unpaid citations, jail crowding, and civil unrest with no solution in sight. In an endless cycle, the police would shuffle the homeless around from place to place, sometimes sending them to dangerous places like the banks of creeks. The homeless who refused to cooperate were given tickets, which often then led to arrest and then jail.
Austin City Council Steps In to Help the Austin Homeless
The Austin City Council decided this was an unacceptable situation. In June 2019, the city council overwhelmingly voted to weaken and water down existing city ordinances. These changes were made with the best intentions for the Austin homeless I’m sure but are now causing some serious chaos and repercussions, resulting in the emergence of tent cities, right here in Austin, Texas, which is a bit to close to home for many Texans. Panhandling was made legal as long as the panhandlers did not “aggressively confront” the would-be givers. Then comes the issue of lying and sitting on an Austin Tx sidewalk. That became legal as long as the person lying or sitting doesn’t block rights-of-way for others. Camping in certain public areas became legal as well, including camping under bridges and sidewalks, as long as the campers don’t infringe on other people’s right-of-way. Camping on private property or in public parks still remained illegal.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler
Proponents of these changes, including Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, are making the case that this is a compassion referendum. Steve Adler, in an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman, states, “You and I spend millions of taxpayer dollars playing this perverse game of moving people around and solving nothing,” and continued to say, “I refuse to play any longer.” For the first time in a long while, Austin’s homeless were able to get a good night’s sleep. One of Adler’s main messages is, “Want to stop people sleeping in public places? House them.” Adler believes the homeless should be let out of the shadows, and measures are taken for their safety and security. Perhaps Adler believes putting the homeless problem front and center, if you will, will be a way to force lawmakers to derive other remedies besides mere relocation when they receive abundant complaints from constituents. Unfortunately, a “us against them” mentality is quickly developing, in which many say Adler is putting the welfare and concerns of the homeless above his own constituency and that of mainstream society as well.
Austin City council backpedaling?
On Oct 17, Austin City Council voted to make changes to the Austin Tx city ordinance once again. These changes address in particular where the homeless can lie or sit and where it is legal to camp. The Austin Police Department has also made some ordinance enforcement changes as well. The Austin City council made camping on all city sidewalks illegal, but lying or sitting down will not – as long as it is more than 15 feet from an operating business. Sitting and lying in downtown Austin is now also banned. Areas prone to fires are also banned due to safety reasons. It now seems more than ever community leaders are in desperation when it comes to solving the homelessness that Austin Tx is suffering. The mayor Steve Adler continues to state that lack of affordable housing is the culprit. That begs the question if you were to give each homeless person a house theoretically, would they be responsible enough to maintain it and pay their taxes, or would they simply return to the street down the road?
Greg Abbots Steps In
On Nov 7, 2019, Governor Abbot opened a 5-acre site for the homeless to camp on. Abbot has also instructed TxDot to clear the homeless under freeways and clean up the trash they left behind, which they did and continue to do. Abbott has been a staunch critic of Adler and the policies set forth by the Austin city council. It is no secret that Gov. Abbot and Mayor Steve Adler have been at odds over the last number of months regarding the issue of homelessness in Austin Tx. Gov. Abbott states the problem has worsened since the Austin City Council diluted and watered down city ordinances in favor of the homeless. Abbott contends there are now used syringes lying on the streets along with trash and feces in abundance, and these problems will continue to increase if left unchecked. Mayor Adler continues to contend that the homeless problem has not become worse or increased, it just has been brought out in the open into the light from the shadows. Abbott continues his aggressive “clean up” campaigns, but the homeless often move right back after the clean up is over just to start the cycle once again. One can easily see that no long-term strategy has been implemented by either side.
Murder in Austin as the Austin Homeless Crisis Goes On
On Fri Jan 3, 2019, a homeless man went on a stabbing spree in south Austin, which left one person dead and some more injured.
Gov Greg Abbott took to Twitter tweeting during the immediate aftermath of the attack “When all facts are revealed I bet you’ll learn that the killer was a homeless man with prior arrests,” Abbott tweets on, “If so Austin’s reckless homeless policy puts lives in danger to murders like this. Austin leaders must answer for their perilous policies.” Gov. Abbott predicted the assailant was a homeless man with a past criminal record, and he was right.
After receiving a little backlash for that tweet in which he pointed to the city of Austins relaxed laws to deal with the homeless crisis, as the culprit for culminating the environment which led to this weekend’s stabbing, Abbott insisted and maintained he was not attacking the homeless themselves, just the cities poor policies in regards to dealing with this issue. Abbott continued to write “I’m not attacking homelessness, I’m criticizing the lawlessness promoted by the City of Austin. The city’s top job is public safety, and they are failing. Yesterday’s tragic murder is the most recent example.” Adler quickly fired back by tweeting, “It’s misleading, and it’s harmful to equate people experiencing homelessness with being criminals,” said Mayor Adler. “It’s like saying that immigrants are rapists. There’s a real damage to society when we demonize people in ways that are simply not true.”
Adler also said that he would prefer to debate in person with Abbott instead of the Twitter platform.
The Austin Homeless Crisis Continues
For all of the passionate debate and hostility, it seems no one has yet offered a viable long-term solution. The irony here is that many people fled to Austin from the west coast, including California, to escape the chaotic and devastating homeless crisis happening there only to be confronted with it once again in Austin. As real estate prices continue to climb, one can only feel hopeless as the homeless crisis continues to spread. Not all the news is bad; Houston has seen a significant drop in homelessness over the last decade while Dallas has seen a 700% increase. There has been a 9% increase in the homeless in Dallas just in the last year.
Austin The City
The popular local phrase “keep Austin Weird” comes to mind when looking at this issue. I doubt many Austin citizens had this in mind when the term was coined. I believe the residents of Austin have the right to walk down the streets and be safe. I believe businesses should be able to offer goods and provides services without their safety and the safety of their patrons being compromised. Families should not be in fear or only restricted to certain parts of town due to safety concerns.
On the other hand, not all of those who are homeless are drug addicts thieves. Many of us are only one paycheck away from finding ourselves homeless. How would our ideas and perspectives change if we were the one who was homeless? I know each of us has a deeply personal answer to that question. Should drug abuse be considered an illness or unacceptable behavior? Should people who have mental illness be given a “get out of jail free card?” There are many questions we must answer for ourselves as a society. Austin is simply a microcosm of a much bigger problem. California is drastically losing their fight against homelessness. Homelessness is a plague that affects many, more than just the homeless. If you would like to help fight homelessness in Austin, please click here. I would love to know your thoughts about the homeless epidemic in Austin or the world for that matter. Please comment below. I know we can all agree we want a bright future without the suffering of the homeless and those whom they impact.
About The Author
Benjamin Ross is a real estate expert and professional who serves the state of Texas. Benjamin started his career in 2002. He was a director for private investment companies, responsible for acquisitions and management of real estate.
As a Realtor, it is Benjamin’s priority and intention to treat you, the client, the way he would want to be treated if he was the client. Benjamin believes every client is unique with a unique set of goals. It is Benjamin’s job to help his clients accomplish their goals big and small.
As an Investor, Benjamin has an extensive history working with real estate investors. It can be challenging to find a realtor with personal real estate investments and the experience that comes with it. The fact that Benjamin is a real estate investor and Landlord makes him unique and beneficial to his clients.
As Source Expert, Benjamin also serves a variety of journalists and bloggers. Benjamin has a passion for teaching others about the real estate industry. Knowledge is power and Benjamin does not mind sharing it.
Benjamin loves to partner with other professionals across the state of Texas.
As a team player Benjamin embraces the knowledge and experience of others. He is always open to new ideas and opinions of others if it results in the success of his clients.
Real Estate Aside…
Benjamin owned and operated a therapeutic group home for special needs children. He specialized with the care of children who were afflicted with down’s syndrome and severe autism. Benjamin started a non-profit company, Yoshua Haven and partnered with Toys for Tots to ensure disadvantaged children in the state system had Christmas gifts during the holiday season. Secondly, he partnered with warehouse distributors to help distribute food to the homeless and low-income families in the DFW area.
Benjamin has three beautiful daughters and a loving fiancee. He resides in Corpus Christi and McAllen.
Benjamin’s Published Articles and Quotes (see all)
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