Homeless situation


Arushi Sharma

Last year during the summer Governor Gregg Abbott wanted to address the safety and health of all Texans and the Texas Department of Transportation spent weeks forcing the homeless Austin residents out from under the bridges and overpasses.

Arushi Sharma, Reporter

Last year during the summer Governor Gregg Abbott wanted to address the safety and health of all Texans and the Texas Department of Transportation spent weeks forcing the homeless Austin residents out from under the bridges and overpasses.

After the Texas Department of Transportation finished checking the bridges and overpasses the homeless Austin residents moved back to their own homes because they had no other place to go. Although Abbott promised more space in homeless shelters, it wasn’t enough for the two thousand three hundred people that are homeless in Austin. 

A few days after the homeless moved back, the Austin City Council changed the ordinances of public spaces in another attempt to stop Austin homeless residents from living on the streets. The new ordinance stated that camping on sidewalks, sitting and lying near the building are no longer permitted within fifteen feet near an entrance or exit of a building. 

The Council hoped that this ordinance would get rid of the violent crime in downtown Austin if they could control the number of people living on the street but data from the Austin Police Department shows a six percent increase in violent crime from the previous year. 

Around October, Mayor Adler decided to take action and stop the ordinance rule from happening because he felt as if the rule was causing more conflict then helping the homeless. 

The government is spending around 27,000 on homelessness per day, trying to prevent people from being homeless by assisting those experiencing homelessness and creating affordable housing. Recently, on January 24th a series of stabbings occurred in Downtown Austin leaving three people injured. Later that night, Governor Abbott released a statement expressing his concern for the city of Austin, advising Mayor Adler to reinstate the ordinances rule. 

Councilmember Ann Kitchen has a different opinion than Adler explaining that the governor’s attacks aren’t helping them solve the problem of homelessness. Instead, she believes that the City of Austin should work with the governor to provide shelter and assistance for those experiencing homelessness in Austin. 

Mayor Adler also expresses his thoughts as he feels that a lot of the crimes in Austin are not committed by the homeless population and the government suggesting that the homeless population is at fault creates more conflict. The ordinance rules have yet to be reinstated, and the Austin government is still working on helping more and more homeless residents from getting off the streets. 

Now after hearing all of these details about what’s going on in Austin, here’s my opinion. As a young kid, my family always taught me to give back to the community and so we would volunteer at different homeless breakfasts around Austin. My family and I would wake up around six in the morning and go help tons of other amazing people cook breakfast. At the first tick of 8, it was dead silent, but all of a sudden tons of people from everywhere came into the place with bright smiles on their faces as if nothing was wrong. The very first time I went to this, I cried. Honest opinion, some of these people lost their homes, their family, everything in their lives that they held so close to their heart yet these same people came into the building with a smile as bright as the sun shining outside. 

After going back a few more times, I actually got to talk to these people, from ages 16 to ages 78, and hear their stories, learning about how they lived a life just like I do but one day lost their job and became homeless it truly inspired me to help make a change. So, I did two projects with the idea to help improve their lives because I truly believed that I could. However, it was not as easy as I had imagined. It takes more than one person who is passionate about making a change in order for it to actually happen. This is why I connected my personal story to what’s happening with Mayor Adler, who truly believes that turning against them and kicking them off the streets isn’t okay and wants to work with the community to make a change. 

So what is? How can we as a community help out tons of people in Austin that aren’t as fortunate as we are to go to a school, live in a safe community and be surrounded by people who care? Here’s what I think, there are several ways to help these people by something as huge as advocating for their rights or something as small as going to one of these homeless breakfasts and just help serve food and tell them to have a good day, you can help make a difference if you try so go out and do it!