Governor Greg Abbott – in the wee-hours of the morning – made good on his threat to clean-up Austin’s growing “homeless crisis.
The governor declared the growing “homeless crisis” a state-of-emergency and began moving state resources into the city, cleaning up the over 2,000 individuals currently living on the street in this once beautiful and pristine city.
Moreover, when we think of the great state of Texas, we usually think of wide-open spaces, rugged individualism and historic figures fighting for freedom against overwhelming odds, mirroring our own America’s Revolution, in fact, Texas’ history is indeed America’s history.
However, in recent years, the “Lone-Star-State” has become akin to a Charles Dickens novel…“A Tale of Two Cities.” in that although Texas is a loving 1ST and 2nd Amendment state, it harbors a growing and pervasive progressive influence within the big cities of Houston, Dallas and Austin, all governed by progressive Democrats.
Recently Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler passed an ordinance similar to that of disease-infested Los Angeles County in California that allowed homeless individuals to set up camp in public spaces, including city parks, even on the grounds of City Hall.
The end result is of course growing chaos and anger among the city residence and within Austin’s business community.
On Monday the crisis finally reached critical mass with continued reports of vandalism, random assaults, growing filth, open drug use, and public defecation, mimicking that of a third world nation or a war-torn country.
Finally, after months of escalating decay, Governor Greg Abbott has finally pulled-the-plug and stepped in after his promise to the progressive mayor to “demonstrate consequential improvement in the Austin homelessness crisis” or the state will step in.
In a press release last month Gov. Abbott warned that reports of “violence, used needles, and feces littering the streets of Austin and endangering Texas residents,” had become unbearable.
The governor along with a number of Republican officials and many Austin businesses owners have decried the recent changes to the cities ordinance, designed to avoid criminalizing homelessness but instead embolden those individuals to simply commit more petty crimes, shoot drugs openly, and turn the once pristine city into a public toilet bowl, believing that they either won’t be arrested or removed from the street because of the egregious ordinance passed by Adler, giving them virtually a free pass to turn the city into a shambles.
The press release by the governor noted that under the state’s new “camping in public” law, while it’s legal to camp on public property as long as a person does not endanger “the health or safety of another person or of themselves” or make “usage of such area unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous.”
Adding, “As the Governor of Texas, I have the responsibility to protect the health and safety of all Texans, including Austin residents,” Abbott wrote in a letter to Adler. “Further inaction by you and the Austin City Council will leave me no choice other than to use the tools available to the State of Texas to ensure that people are protected from health and safety concerns caused by the Austin homeless policies.”
The governor then laid out his options under Texas law, utilizing several emergency plans if the mayor refuses to comply by immediately addressing the homeless crisis, that he helped facilitate, The first would include the Health and Human Services Commission, which has the authority “to adopt rules in the areas of communicable disease, sanitation, and health protection,” Abbott said. The Texas Department of Public Safety, he warned, will add troopers in Austin areas that “pose greater threats.”
Mayor Adler responded to the governor’s threat saying he understood “the angst and concern” that prompted the governor’s ultimatum, suggesting that he actually “welcomed” the governor’s intervention and that Abbott could be part of the solution in solving the state and national issue of homelessness.
Adding, “This is a community right now that is locked on the goal of ending homelessness,” Adler said. “It would be easier, it would happen more rapidly if we had the state’s support and I would welcome that assistance.”
The “assistance” that the do-nothing mayor was alluding too finally came Monday morning, perhaps not as intended, as Gov. Abbott ordered the Texas Department of Transportation to begin clearing encampments under state highways.
Clean up crews began posting signs under overpasses throughout the city on Tuesday warning anyone that “all personal property and camp debris must be removed” before Monday, and that “any items left behind will be considered abandoned and removed.”
The homeless crisis in America is a complex issue, involving chronic mental health and substance abuse issues, along with poverty.
Austin isn’t the only big city in Texas experiencing a homeless crisis, according to Blake Fetterman, Executive Director of the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, the city of Dallas has experienced a 40% rise in homelessness and since 2015 a 300% rise in unsheltered individuals also living on the streets of Dallas.