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Austin has voted to reinstate felony penalties for habits associated to homelessness.

With its passage, Proposition B will restore town’s earlier ban on public encampments, prohibition of resting in sure areas and limitations on panhandling. The citizen-led measure handed handily by a 15-point margin.

The measure fueled an unusually massive turnout for a Could election in an off-year. All informed, 90,428 voters in Travis, Hays and Williamson counties supported the measure, whereas 66,292 opposed it, in line with unofficial outcomes.

The measure is a direct response to Austin’s insurance policies associated to homelessness. Again in 2019, Metropolis Council voted to soften its coverage of ticketing individuals tenting, resting or panhandling.

The hassle to get Prop B on the poll was spearheaded by the political motion committee Save Austin Now, which submitted a petition in February to set off the referendum. The PAC is helmed by Travis County GOP Chair Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek, a Democrat who’s been outspoken towards Austin’s homelessness insurance policies since 2019, when town tried to construct a shelter in South Austin.

Petricek informed KUT she wasn’t shocked by the turnout and hoped metropolis leaders would take voters’ “rebuke” of the present insurance policies to coronary heart.

“I believe what you noticed with the election turnout is it clearly wasn’t a partisan difficulty, and clearly I used to be by no means the one Democrat,” she stated. “Loads of Democrats really feel the identical method. The town did not roll (insurance policies) out with a viable plan.”

Mackowiak tweeted shortly after returns started coming in, calling the win a “clear message … {that a} majority of Austinites will not tolerate failed insurance policies that hurt lifestyle.”

Properties Not Handcuffs, a coalition concerned in legal challenges to town ordinances previous to 2019, led the opposition to Prop B. A majority of Metropolis Council additionally opposed the measure, together with Council Member Greg Casar, who led the hassle to roll again guidelines in 2019.

Casar stated he was dissatisfied with the outcome and stated the turnout was a transparent indication of “a a lot stronger neighborhood will.” Nonetheless, he added, points for Austinites residing outside have gotten worse due to the pandemic and a reinstatement of bans shouldn’t be the prime focus.

“We’ve got to answer that misery with actual options,” he stated. “Proposition B isn’t that, however I do know that people have been looking for an answer, and I wish to respect that.”

In an announcement shortly earlier than votes had been counted, Mayor Steve Adler stated the reinstated guidelines will take impact Could 11.

The town continues to be shifting forward with its so-called HEAL initiative, which is able to prohibit encampments in sure areas after individuals residing there are linked with housing. The town additionally lately laid out a plan to amass 3,000 housing items for individuals transitioning out of homelessness within the subsequent three years.

This story was produced as a part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made potential by donations from the neighborhood. Although our reporting covers donors every now and then, we’re cautious to maintain enterprise and editorial efforts separate whereas sustaining transparency. A whole record of donors is on the market here, and our code of ethics is defined here.

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