Has Austin become too "transient-friendly", drawing homeless from outside the city to take advantage of our welfare policies? That's one theory expressed at yesterday's Public Safety Commission meeting. Commission member Kent Anschutz says "everybody and their grandmother wants to move to Austin, TX...and our city council is subsidizing them to move to Austin".
Austin police and EMS reported to the Public Safety Commission they've seen a significant spike in transient-involved crime and mental health calls. They also say once the beds are full at mental health facilities, those considered a danger to themselves or others end up in the local jails.
A significant jump in the number of transient-involved crimes and calls requiring police response is causing concern. Public Safety Commission Vice Chair Dr. Kim Rossmo says our city's welfare policies invite the homeless, but our strained resources to do anything aside from maintain their status-quo are causing problems.
Rossmo says he's concerned Austin is drawing transients from outside the city, similar to an explosion of homeless who flocked to San Francisco to benefit from their welfare policies, creating a much larger problem than was local to them.
Police and EMS officials at yesterday's Public Safety meeting agreed their resources are strained by a relatively small group of homeless causing a disproportionate amount of trouble, particularly downtown. Assistant Police Chief Raul Mungia tells the Public Safety Commission, "From January 2011 to November 6th of 2012, 35 percent of the violent crime down there involved transients."
Mungia says 254 violent crimes were reported with 29 of those incidents involved transients as a suspect and 13 as a victim.