Austin's homeless ordinances back on books May 11, but arrests, camp clearings won't start until July

Under the city of Austin's phased enforcement plan released May 10, citations at public encampments will begin in mid-June to be followed by arrests and clearances in July as necessary. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Under the city of Austin's phased enforcement plan released May 10, citations at public encampments will begin in mid-June to be followed by arrests and clearances in July as necessary. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Under the city of Austin's phased enforcement plan released May 10, citations at public encampments will begin in mid-June to be followed by arrests and clearances in July as necessary. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

The public order ordinances contained in Proposition B and passed by more than 57% of Austin voters are set to go into effect May 11.

However, the enforcement of the ordinances—including bans on public camping and sleeping outdoors downtown—will not be immediate as the city takes a phased approach to implementing the new regulations.

Austin officials had previously said Proposition B enforcement would not begin in full May 11, although further details on a timeline or scope of the process were not released until the city laid out its multiphase, monthslong plan May 10. In a statement, the city said it was moving forward on a "safe and humane approach" focused first on communication with individuals experiencing homelessness as it moves toward full enforcement this summer.

"It is important for Austinites to understand that implementation of the camping restrictions will require a process that will extend over several weeks. The objectives are to emphasize outreach and education, to prioritize health and safety, and to connect persons to appropriate resources and services," the city said in a statement.

Phase one of Austin's plan will begin May 11 with 30 days of "engagement and education," during which the Austin Police Department will issue only verbal warnings unless responding to a health or safety threat, the city said. After one month of outreach, police will begin issuing written warnings or citations in a 30-day second phase leading up to full enforcement of the new ordinances through the third and final phases this July.

During phases three and four, the city said APD will proceed with arrests and clearing out public encampments "where compliance has not been achieved after a citation has been issued."

Police and city homelessness outreach teams will continue to provide information on shelter and storage options for unsheltered individuals throughout all phases.

The city also said staff at the Downtown Austin Community Court, where citations will be directed, will work to develop plans connecting some of those cited with social and community services.

City Manager Spencer Cronk, interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon and Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey are expected to provide more information on the city's enforcement plan May 11.

The education and enforcement stemming from Proposition B's passage are some of several sides of Austin's homelessness policy moving forward this month. In addition to approving additional funding for several organizations involved in the city's Housing-Focused Homeless Encampment Assistance Link program May 6, council members unanimously authorized Cronk to begin planning for the establishment of regulated encampments throughout Austin's 10 City Council districts over the coming weeks.

An initial presentation on possible city-run campgrounds is due back from Cronk May 14, followed by a more comprehensive report coming by early June. He is also expected to find potential space for the construction of tiny homes to be used for temporary housing with an additional report on that concept due back to council no later than July 1.


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