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The Austin, Texas, elected government passed a law last month eliminating the city’s prohibition on people sitting, lying, or camping in public. Furious Republican officials are now seeking to overturn this decision and have enlisted the opinions of a lot of people who don’t live in Austin.
Like many cities, Austin has a significant and growing population of people without consistent and stable housing. According to a report earlier this year, more than 2,000 people in the state capital experience homelessness.
The city council voted in June to lift the ban on sitting and camping, except for those actually blocking pathways. Advocates for the homeless oppose laws like the one Austin eliminated as ineffective and unconstitutional, saying they actually make it harder to address the problem.
But Travis County Republican Chairman Matt Mackowiak was not happy. “In all the time I’ve lived in Austin, I’ve never seen an issue where there is more unanimous opposition, more unanimous agreement, than there is on this issue,” he told told KVUE this week. “I think the city council and the mayor have badly misjudged how the policy would work and how people would understand it and perhaps even come to agree with it.”
On Thursday he launched a Change.org petition demanding that the ban be immediately rescinded. First-term Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), whose congressional district includes part of the city, tweeted out the link with the words, “Sign this, Austin.”
Amazing: 5,000+ signatures in 36 hours.
Sign and share: https://t.co/2Wds53aQIa
Rescind the homeless camping ordinance in Austin
— Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) July 19, 2019
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