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HB 1925 would ban public camping in the state, instead requiring Texas cities to dedicate specific public areas where homeless individuals can camp. This statewide “camping ban” comes on the heels of an similar ban reinstated by Austin voters earlier this month that bans public camping within city limits, allowing law enforcement officers to issue fines to violators.
“We’ve seen, across the United State and here in Austin, that type of land that’s designated for that is typically away from everything else and makes it difficult for people to get their basic necessities met, and is definitely not in what you’d call ‘opportunity zones’ for people. So that is a barrier because transportation is a huge barrier.” Having no housing has its own serious health concerns regardless of proximity to medical facilities. But simply moving homeless populations away from metropolitan areas doesn’t solve the problem, according to Samuels. Samuels said sponsors’ plans for what the alternative state-designated homeless areas will look like are unclear, but that they’re likely to be located far away from metropolitan areas with quicker access to critical services — including health care. He listed the Barton Creek Greenbelt outside of Austin as an example.
Supporters say the bill will benefit homeless populations and take them off of the streets by making cities provide them designated areas to camp. Opponents — like some state Democratic legislators — however, argue the bill effectively criminalizes homelessness and doesn’t give these individuals supportive resources. Sen. Dawn Buckingham and Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, both Republicans, are sponsoring HB 1925. It passed the House on May 6th with an 88-56 vote and is currently under deliberation in the Senate.
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