AUSTIN (KXAN) – Texas House on Wednesday issued the first ever approval of laws that would create a statewide public camping ban.
The 1925 House Bill would create a Class C offense for anyone knowingly camping in a public place and punish local governments for failing to enforce the ban. The bill would still need a final vote in the House of Representatives, while an identical bill in the Texas Senate remains on committee.
If approved, the nationwide camping ban would affect the city’s response to Proposal B – an electoral measure passed by voters last week that will reinstate a public camping ban in the city on May 11th.
Austin City Council is considering directing the city administrator to identify potential locations for city-approved campsites. However, state-wide legislation banning camping would require local governments to obtain state approval before designating a camping area.
Leah Hargrave of the Department of Mosaic Streets visited people living under the US-183 flyover in Oak Knoll, north Austin, on Wednesday. Many aren’t sure what will happen when a new public camping ban goes into effect on Tuesday.
“You are not sure what will happen on May 11th. You just know something will happen on May 11th,” Hargrave said.
Austin homeless fear what comes next when the camping ban goes into effect
Hargrave and other homeless service providers received an email from the city of Austin that they are “considering options” before the ban goes into effect.
Beth Easterling, who lives at the campsite Hargrave visited, wishes these options had been considered long before the vote.
“Who should say we don’t get woken up in the morning and say, ‘You have to go?’” Easterling said. “Then we all have to pack up our things and go.”