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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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