Survey reveals aggressive panhandling impact on safety perception downtown

A survey, conducted in October, of 275 people who work, live or have visited downtown Austin was released Tuesday by the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association.  Congress Avenue was the dividing line in the survey which questioned people’s perception of safety downtown.  Of those surveyed, 73 percent said they are concerned about their safety walking downtown at night and take precautions.  Nineteen percent said they always feel safe at night, however, eight percent said they avoid going out altogether for safety reasons.

Sixty-two percent felt the transient and panhandling issues are worse in Austin than in most downtowns in other cities.  Seventy-two percent said they’ve experienced aggressive or threatening encounters with panhandlers or transients which caused them to feel unsafe.

Eighty-four percent said they agreed with Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo that social services like those which cater to the homeless should be moved out of downtown.   Pamela Power with the DANA told KVUE that downtown stakeholders including property owners will approach Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell either this week or next about forming a taskforce to look at the problems in hopes of finding solutions.


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