Voters carry again homeless tenting ban

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After all of the votes were counted in Austin, Proposition B rose to victory in a race that many thought was closer than it ended.

In a hotly contested debate over the city’s homelessness crisis, 57% of voters were in favor of reintroducing criminal sanctions for camping in public spaces, while 42% were against.

More than 150,000 voters cast a vote: 85,830 for, 64,409 against.

Proposal B was at the center of eight nominations, giving residents the vote they didn’t have two years ago when Mayor Steve Adler and Austin City Council made it legal to camp in most public spaces by spending a 23 year old repealed old ordinance that had done this banned it.

The council’s decision to end the ban sparked a backlash among many Austin residents and business owners, especially as the city’s unprotected population appeared to be multiplying during the COVID-19 pandemic. Save Austin Now – the political action committee behind the push to reinstate the ban – raised $ 1.25 million in donations through April 21 and rented 29 billboards. PAC co-founder Matt Mackowiak, leader of the Travis County’s Republican Party, said the donation total on Saturday was around $ 1.75 million.

The outcome was all but decided after the early voting results were released after 7:00 p.m. At the time, 63% of voters who tabled a ballot between April 19 and 27 were in favor of reintroducing the ban, compared with just 36% who opposed it.

Speaking to the early vote count, Adler said he believed this reflected a reluctance on the part of voters to see people leading unprotected lifestyles. However, this applies to voters on both sides of the proposal. He added that he was committed to significantly reducing the city’s homelessness problem before leaving office in early 2023. A plan he has worked with other government officials and nonprofit leaders is for Austin to add 3,000 homes and housing over the next three years.

“I think the people in our city don’t want people to sleep in tents and public spaces,” said Adler. “I think this is a widespread desire and we have to make it a reality.” None of us should ever feel comfortable having people in our church being in tents. “

Councilor Greg Casar, who made the ordinance amendment and fought hard with Adler against Prop B, said the work will keep moving people off the streets and into homes.

“Throughout the campaign season, I’ve spoken to so many people who were torn about Prop B – who were for Prop B, who were against Prop B,” he said. “I’ve found that people aren’t exactly as divided as it seems because I think the vast majority of Austinites share a common goal, which is to really and drastically reduce homelessness in our city. Prop B won’t really help. ” But after today we must come together and house 3,000 people who are homeless over the next three years. ”

More:The election measure on Austin’s homeless camping ban sparked a biblical debate

More:The goals of the Austin Homelessness Summit include 3,000 housing units and millions in spending

Prop B imposes penalties not only for camping but also for sitting or lying on a public sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in or near downtown Austin or the vicinity of the University of Texas campus. The ordinance would also prohibit soliciting money or other valuables at certain times and in certain places.

Mackowiak said the result should be a wake-up call to Adler, Casar and the city council – which includes 10 Democrats and a single Republican.

“Tonight is a clear message from the City of Austin to City Hall that we are not going to put up with insane policies that make life worse,” said Mackowiak. “The Mayor, Greg Casar and a number of other members of the city.” The Council decided to duplicate a policy that has clearly failed. “

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