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Elizabeth Pagano is the editor of the Austin Monitor.
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Ellis and Flannigan weigh in on homelessness ordinances
Tuesday, September 17, 2019 by Elizabeth Pagano
On Monday, Council members Jimmy Flannigan and Paige Ellis weighed in on recent city statute changes and subsequent vocal discontent in a post on the City Council Message Board. The post, which was penned by Flannigan, reiterates support for Council’s June action, which lifted existing ordinances that served to criminalize homelessness. “We both recognize that clearly this isn’t going well and people from all directions are feeling that. The rollout and communication around the June changes have been challenging, and the efforts by our colleagues to rein it back in looks to be creating an even greater challenge,” writes Flannigan. “We are in agreement that camping bans do not actually solve the problem of homelessness and that picking and choosing certain streets in certain districts does not move our city any closer to a solution. We should allow our new homeless strategy officer to identify where people experiencing homelessness can be. Once we have identified and provided the services for how people get off the streets, and not just keep moving them around to different parts of town, then we can revisit restrictions on camping.” The proposal suggests that clarification of the new rules and communication with the community, police and the new homelessness strategy officer could go a long way toward solving current issues. This proposal, along with others, will be discussed at a special called meeting of City Council on Wednesday afternoon.