AUSTIN, Texas — Congressman Chip Roy (R-Texas) has joined a long list of people who oppose the City of Austin's recent changes to its homeless ordinances that now allow those experiencing homelessness to camp, sit and lie in certain public spaces.
The representative released a letter on Monday, which he said he sent to Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
In it, the representative says he has "several problems" with the new policy, stating that he believes it undermines security, harms the private property of citizens, hurts commerce, and endangers the homeless themselves. He also calls the new ordinances a "lazy approach to dealing with homeless individuals" in the Austin community.
Mayor Steve Adler responded to the letter late Monday, saying the City is still focused on getting homeless people into homes. He also said Roy and Congress as a whole should support HR 1856, the Ending Homelessness Act of 2019.
"I think the congressman and all Congress has a really important place in this issue – HR 1856 is a bill that's pending in Congress right now that would actually bring federal funding to cities to help with the homelessness challenge, that would actually bring to cities money so that we could open up more shelters or more homes," Adler said.
The mayor said he thinks Austin is getting closer than ever to finding lasting solutions to homelessness.
"In Austin, we know what works – we just have to scale it. And the conversation that the community's been having the last couple of months I know has been hard, but we have never had as many people so invested, so in tune, to actually end this challenge in our city," Adler said.
Councilmember Greg Casar released the following statement after receiving Rep. Roy's letter:
“While Rep. Roy was busy delaying disaster relief packages for Texans, Austin City Council was focused on strategic investment to address homelessness – by building new shelters, closing tax loopholes, and helping get people housing instead of jail time. As a sitting member of Congress, Rep. Roy could actually be helping address the problem rather than writing letters without bringing solutions to the table.”
Councilmember Casar is referring to when Rep. Roy in May abruptly halted legislation by the U.S. Senate that would have allocated more than $19 billion in disaster funding for nine states and two territories.
Rep. Roy represents the 21st District of Texas.
Related Austin homelessness content:
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- City crews expected to clean up 'eyesore' homeless camp at South Austin park this week
- 3 weeks on the job, Austin's new homeless officer says she sees a good path forward
- 'Let's not become Los Angeles or Seattle.' Downtown group calls on Austin to look at other cities' homelessness actions
- Mayor Steve Adler releases recommendations for next actions on homelessness
- UT police chief calls on Mayor Adler to prohibit homeless camping near campus
- Austin complex for homeless, veterans completed in East Austin
- It's now legal for homeless to camp on Austin streets