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(Jordan Vonderhaar/Austonia)
Austin homeless count canceled due to COVID-19 concerns

Save Austin Now has garnered enough signatures to place the camping ban on the May ballot if verified by the city.


The group, who wants to reverse City Council's 2019 decision to allow the homeless to camp in designated areas, has said they received 30,000 signatures—well over the 20,000 needed to ensure the issue gets put on the ballot.

On Jan. 19, Save Austin Now submitted the signatures to be reviewed by the city clerk. This comes just two months after the group filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin, citing that the clerk tossed out thousands of legitimate signatures in a bid to keep the issue off the ballot in November.

Homes Not Handcuffs, a local group comprised of representatives from various community, legal and advocacy organizations such as Austin Mutual Aid and University United Methodist, met in front of City Hall on Tuesday morning to oppose the camping ban.

The group said reinstating the ban would be detrimental to Austin's homeless population, citing the known COVID-19 exposure inside local jails.

Austin's homeless population has been on the rise for the past several years, seeing a 45% increase from 2019 to 2020. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the 2021 homeless count has been canceled.

The city clerk has until Feb. 12 to validate the petition's signatures for it to be on the May 1 ballot.

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Whether you became a home chef when the pandemic began or have always enjoyed crafting delicious meals, it’s undeniable that no home is complete without a cozy kitchen.

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(Chili Cold Blood Chili Cook Off/Facebook)

Sample some spirits
When: 11:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Where: Desert Door, 211 Darden Hill Rd. Driftwood
What: Attend Desert Door Distillery’s first Explorer Series of 2022. Guests will be able to sample Caliber on its own or in a delicious cocktail.

Eat some chili
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sagebrush, 5500 S. Congress Ave.
What: Enjoy great chili and great music at the 14th Annual Chili Cold Blood Chili Cook-Off. All proceeds will be donated to Health Alliance for Austin Musicians in memory of Nick Curran.

Enjoy some local art
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Neill-Cochran House Museum, 2310 San Gabriel St.
What: The Neil-Cochran House Museum will host a multi-media art exhibition by Austin artist Nell Gottlieb, titled “Land as Persona: An Artist’s Journey.” Gottlieb works in multiple media to reexamine her coming of age, white and female in the Jim Crow South.

Catch some improv comedy
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: GameOn! ATX, 1515 Dungan Ln.
What: ColdTowne ThrowDowne is an improv comedy tournament between troupes that will take place in front of a live studio audience and streamed live to the world on Twitch.

Catch a Johnny Cash-style show
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Georgetown Palace Theatre, 810 S. Austin Ave.
What: Experience music history with a unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and the healing power of home and family set to the tune of the legendary Johnny Cash.