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public safety

Police file photo. (Christa McWhirter)

As local violent crime rates continue to rise, the Austin Police Department launched a gun crime prevention program in partnership with the Travis County District Attorney's Office on Friday. It will continue through the end of August and aims to increase prosecution of violent offenses by tracking gun crime trends more closely and referring cases to federal law enforcement where appropriate.

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(Community First! Village/Facebook)

Local nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes announced plans to vastly expand Community First! Village, a 51-acre master-planned development that is home to more than 220 formerly chronically homeless residents, on Wednesday.

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Homeless residents gather an at a camp under an overpass in South Austin. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

As Austin navigates its homelessness crisis, city voters will decide starting Monday whether to reinstate a ban on sitting, lying and camping in certain areas of the city. Proposition B has drawn impassioned support and opposition and is perhaps the most contentious item on the May 1 ballot.

Austonia sought out clear and brief editorials from either side of the debate. Arguing in favor of Prop B is Cleo Petricek, a Democrat and co-founder, along with Travis County GOP Chairperson Matt Mackowiak, of the Save Austin Now political action committee, which has led the charge to reinstate the camping ban. Opponent Emily Seales is a licensed clinical social worker and advocate with over 20 years of experience working and volunteering in homeless services in Austin and around the country. She is currently on staff at the Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center and is board co-chair of Open Door.

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Homeless residents have set up tents on Cesar Chavez Street near the historic Buford Tower, which caught fire earlier this month after a blaze spread from the neighboring camp. (Emma Freer)

Starting Monday, Austin voters will decide whether to reinstate a ban on sitting, lying and camping in certain areas of the city. Proposition B is one of eight proposed city code or charter amendments on the May 1 ballot, but it is perhaps the most contentious.

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