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Austin officials may partially reinstate camping ban

(Jordan Vonderhaar)

Austin city officials are set to discuss a proposal to partially reinstate the homeless camping ban in four areas around the city.


The Housing-focused Homeless Encampment Assistance Link, or HEAL for short, was brought forward last week by City Council Member Ann Kitchen and is co-sponsored by four other council members. The proposal will target areas deemed "dangerous and unhealthy" and provide housing for those camped in those designated areas.

The four locations HEAL lays out as "priority locations" are:

  • In Northwest Austin, at an intersection adjacent to significant vehicular and pedestrian traffic
  • East Austin, on a sidewalk or public easement adjacent to or leading to a public library
  • South Central Austin, at a major intersection under a state highway overpass
  • Along a major arterial through the Central Business District

After the council's work session early in the week, the vote is expected to take place on Thursday.

If the vote passes, City Manager Stephen Cronk will return to the council by Feb. 18 with an implementation plan and will have until August to put the first phase of the $3 million plan in place.

Included in this first phase will be finding longer-term solutions and permanent supportive housing and getting the people who camp in the heavily-trafficked areas laid out in the proposal off the streets. The second phase will include fully banning camping in these areas.

Discussion about the HEAL initiative comes just one week after the council approved the purchase of a hotel in North Austin to provide housing for those experiencing homelessness early last week.

Council also delayed voting on the purchase of a second hotel in Northwest Austin after Council Member Mackenzie Kelly asked for an extension to share the news with the public. That vote is scheduled to take place this week.

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