VIEWPOINTS: Plan criminalizing the homeless might harm them and us

  • Editorial Board
12:00 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 Opinion
A group of homeless friends gather their belongings after spending the night sleeping under the overpass between Pack Saddle Pass and Manchaca Road in South Austin this month. The city is working on a pilot program that would allow Austin Police to cite or arrest homeless people staying under the overpass.

We applaud Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen for recognizing a gap in serving people who are homeless in her South Austin district, then persuading her council colleagues to finance a social worker dedicated to helping people living on the streets.

But Kitchen’s other proposal that would remove homeless people from a neighborhood in her district using trespassing laws – however well-intentioned – is likely to result in criminalizing homelessness and poverty.

That runs counter to what the District 5 council member told us she wants to achieve: Safeguard the neighborhood and help improve the plight of homeless people. Findings by a city audit also dispute the effectiveness of the kind of initiative Kitchen is pushing.

There are more constructive solutions in proposals by Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Ora Houston that treat not only the symptoms of homelessness, but the causes as well. CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING.