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Gov. Abbott Says Texas Will Temporarily House Homeless Austin Residents On Five Acres Of State Land

Marjorie Kamys Cotera
The Texas Tribune
Tents set up near the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, or ARCH, in downtown Austin on Aug. 2, 2019.

After forcing Austin's homeless population out from under state overpasses, Gov. Greg Abbott's office on Thursday announced a plan to provide a five-acre plot of land for homeless to camp temporarily until more permanent shelter can be identified.

"Governor Abbott applauds the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Austin Alliance, and all who are supporting ATX Helps for their substantial effort to provide shelter and care for the homeless in Austin," Abbott's spokesman, John Wittman, said in a text message.

"Until that shelter opens, the State of Texas is providing a temporary location for homeless to camp. It is located on 5+ acres of land near Highway 183 and Montopolis. That area is the closest to downtown the State has available. The state-provided location includes portable restrooms, hand washing stations, and comes with commitments from local charities to deliver food multiple times during the day. This location will provide access to healthcare providers and homeless case workers to provide care for the homeless."

AtAbbott's direction, the Texas Department of Transportation on Monday removed people experiencing homelessness and their personal property from encampments under state overpasses in Austin.

Abbott's announcement of the pending move came after he gave Austin officials a deadline to show “consequential improvement” in dealing with homeless people camping in or near highly visible public places or risk state intervention. An Abbott spokesman said the governor’s office wanted to see less feces and fewer needles in the city. But Abbott's office never publicly specified a threshold or process for measuring incidents of human waste or needles before ordering the state to step in.

This developing story will be updated.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.