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South Austin neighbors say homeless encampment brings hazardous conditions

"I've seen urinating and defecating into the street. We've seen needles. We've seen broken bottles and litter, stuff like that."

AUSTIN, Texas — A South Austin neighborhood with nearby homeless encampments is left wondering what more it can do after reports to 311, 911 and emails to the district's councilmembers provided no help.

"We just called to do what we could to see it getting taken care of, but no one really did anything," said Kayvon Rashidi, a South Austin resident.

Rashidi lives south of the South Congress area in District 5, represented by Austin Councilmember Ann Kitchen. He moved to the neighborhood in the summer of 2021.

Rashidi said for the past year, nearby homeless encampments have brought hazardous conditions for him and his neighbors, many of whom have young children.

"My concern is that someone who is not well or someone who is undergoing some type of substance problem would cause some type of safety concern," Rashidi said. "And that’s sort of what happened."

On Dec. 1, doorbell footage from Rashidi's home captured a woman who police verified to be from a nearby encampment throwing large rocks at Rashidi's front door and window. He believes she was trying to see if she could break in.

"So I stayed up the rest of the night watching this person continue to cause havoc in the street and cause some destruction of property," said Rashidi. "But Austin police said they couldn't arrest her."


For the past year, police and other city agencies have been enforcing the public camping ban that Austin voters reinstated in May 2021. But without enough shelters or housing availability, homelessness in Austin has grown by about 20% in the past year, according to Austin's ECHO.

At the same time, Austin has committed millions of dollars to creating more housing for its homeless population, including renovating hotels for such use, and it is slowly becoming available.

In the meantime, however, people experiencing homelessness continue to shuffle from one part of the area to the other, including South Austin. Austin police often have nowhere to send them.

Rashidi said while he understands Austin police and councilmembers may have their hands tied, his neighborhood's grievances are big health concerns.

"I’ve seen urinating and defecating into the street. We’ve seen needles. We’ve seen broken bottles and litter, stuff like that," Rashidi said.

Rashidi said there are instances of people having sex in public in the encampments.

He added, since the night the woman threw rocks at his home, he and his girlfriend feel a little shaken. He feels this was a particularly violent act against him and his property.

Rashidi notes that Austin police did respond fast and were empathetic toward the situation, despite telling him they could not make any arrests. According to Rashidi, police would not arrest the woman because it was not a crime happening in action.

"Anything we can do when someone is doing something violent or harmful, maybe even just removing them for the night, removing them from the situation, it would be helpful," Rashidi said.

KVUE reached out to Kitchen. In a statement, her team said:

"My office has followed up with city staff and the resident and have informed him APD has assigned officers and a detective to the case and the HOST and PATH teams will be addressing the encampment."

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