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Texas lawmakers consider statewide homeless camping ban that mirrors local proposition to be voted on

A homeless camp has formed on Cesar Chavez Street along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail in downtown Austin. (Emma Freer)

Texas lawmakers will consider a bill that would establish a statewide ban on public camping on Monday.


State Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, filed the partisan bill last month. In her statement of intent, she claimed that homeless camps have led to a rise in property crimes and drug use, present a health hazard, are detrimental to economic development and business activities, strain law enforcement and incentivize homeless people to remain homeless. The Texas Senate Committee on Local Control will conduct a public hearing on State Bill 987 as the issue has reached a fever pitch in Austin.

Meanwhile, Austin leaders recently kicked off a summit to address unsheltered homelessness. A recent spate of fires at local homeless camps has intensified the debate between homeless advocates and those in support of such a ban. Starting next week, Austin voters will be able to vote on Proposition B, which proposes to reinstate a ban on public camping in certain areas of the city.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a statement on Monday in opposition to the bill, comparing it to the local proposition. "This bill, like Proposition B, offers no help and no solution," he said, in part. "We can and must do better to get people out of tents, not merely to move their tents out of sight."

In a statement shared with KVUE, Gov. Greg Abbott responded to SB 987 and another similar legislative proposal, House Bill 1925, directly: "These pieces of legislation provide a uniform policy for the entire state that will hold cities accountable to develop meaningful and compassionate long-term solutions to support those experiencing homelessness."

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