Save Austin Now Demands Answers on Campsite Cleanups

AFD Firefighters on the scene of homeless camp fire

Nonpartisan Save Austin Now PAC is demanding that the City of Austin follow through with important data as part of an encampment clean-up, which is occurring presently at the Williamson Creek Greenbelt (located in South Austin at Stassney and I-35).

The city is clearing and cleaning Williamson Creek Greenbelt. Video of the trashed area from from that campsite can be found here.

“While clearing and cleaning out illegal, unsafe, filthy encampments is a welcome (and rare) development, taxpayers remain disrespected without adequate follow through to ensure services are provided, shelter is offered, and our homeless do not reject services and assistance by choosing to remain in violation of our ordinance and state law camping elsewhere in Austin,” said Save Austin Now co-founders Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek.

A serious effort from the city would provide the public with answers to the following questions after each encampment clean up:

  • How many were housed?
  • How many were rejected?
  • Where did the rejected go?
  • Specifically, what services were the homeless offered?
  • Were those homeless offered case management services?
  • Were the homeless offered medication management?
  • Were the homeless offered mental health diagnosis or treatment?
  • Were the homeless offered drug addiction services?

Save Austin Now is engaged in litigation with the City of Austin over its refusal to fully enforce Prop B (the camping ban), which was reinstated in a May 2021 vote by a margin of 58%-42%. The lawsuit has been on hold before the 3rd Court of Appeals for nearly 300 days as it considers a Plea to the Jurisdiction that was upheld by District Court.

“Cities that allow open camping, either in statue or in practice, can never have successful homeless programs,” said Mackowiak and Petricek. “Closing down encampments will be a welcome step for nearby businesses, residents and families, but without clear data on what services were offered, how many were housed, and how many rejected help, we will never improve in delivering services and shelter to our homeless population. True compassion requires accountability from our homeless and transparency from our government.”

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