Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that he will use the Texas Department of Transportation to clear homeless encampments under many of Austin’s highways.
Abbott’s decision to remove encampments under highway overpasses such under Texas 71 near Menchaca Road will remove one of the few remaining areas in the city where public camping is allowed. The Austin City Council on late Thursday to reinstate portions of a camping ban aimed at the homeless, specifically banning public camping on sidewalks, near the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless and in areas prone to wildfires.
In a statement to the American-Statesman, Abbott’s office said he will also use troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety to monitor the homeless situation in Austin by partnering with the University of Texas and Austin Police Department.
“By reforming its homelessness policy, the city of Austin has taken a meaningful step to address the safety and health of Texans – including the homeless,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman said in an emailed statement. “The state will monitor how well the new policy actually reduces the skyrocketing complaints about attacks by the homeless and other public safety concerns.”