Black leaders in Austin known as the town’s listing of proposed websites for public encampments inequitable and criticized staffers for putting many of the areas east of Interstate 35.
The group on Monday known as for a revision of the plan, which is lower than per week previous, at a information convention hosted by the Black Leaders Collective and Mayor Professional Tem Natasha Harper-Madison.
The plan was spurred by Austin’s reinstatement of a ban on public camping, which prohibits resting in sure areas and places limits on panhandling.
Black leaders together with Harper-Madison, Austin’s NAACP chapter President Nelson Linder and Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion mentioned the town didn’t contemplate their enter when drafting the map.
Harper-Madison, who noticed the preliminary listing of web sites a day earlier than it was launched Tuesday, mentioned the proposal isn’t equitable and was swiftly drafted.
“The truth that practically the entire proposed campsites are east of (Interstate) 35 signifies a mindset that the land and the individuals are expendable,” she mentioned.
Metropolis staffers finally goal to place a short lived camp in every of Austin’s 10 Metropolis Council districts, however these gathered at Metropolis Corridor on Monday famous the dearth of infrastructure on the proposed websites east of I-35.
That lack of infrastructure, Harper-Madison and different audio system argued, goes all the best way again to the town’s 1928 Grasp Plan, which pressured Black Austinites to the town’s east aspect. She mentioned the present tenting plan is a continuation of that mindset “of sweeping all of its undesirable individuals and issues to the east aspect of I-35.”
Harper-Madison mentioned the vast majority of her East Austin Council district voted in opposition to reinstating bans on habits associated to homelessness and identified that the realm already hosts the Salvation Military’s Rathgeber Middle, in addition to different nonprofits and housing developments that assist individuals attempting to get out of homelessness. She known as on different districts to “begin shouldering their justifiable share.”
One of many proposed websites is at Colony Park in Northeast Austin. Colony Park Neighborhood Affiliation president Barbara Scott has been concerned in efforts to construct a well being heart within the neighborhood for the final 10 years. It’s a 208-acre tract of land with out grocery shops, well being care services and infrastructure, she mentioned.
Scott mentioned she had simply gotten out of a gathering in regards to the well being heart with metropolis workers when she heard the town had advised Colony Park as a attainable campsite.
“How do you convey individuals to an space the place there isn’t a water, there isn’t a electrical energy, there may be not a grocery retailer?” she requested. “There’s nothing in that space, and we’ve been combating for the final 10 years – actually the final 40 years … (and) that is unfair to these of us who dwell within the county and within the metropolis of Austin.”
Travillion, who represents Precinct 1 in East Austin, mentioned he hopes there’s a extra open line of communication with the town going ahead, and likewise with communities of shade east of I-35.
“This was a tragically flawed course of, as a result of it didn’t embody most of the most vital stakeholders,” he mentioned. “It didn’t embody the county, which offers a number of programming assets. It didn’t contain neighborhood associations. It didn’t contain church buildings. It didn’t contain the locations that affect exercise in communities. We are going to by no means remedy this drawback sitting in an ivory tower. We should work with the people who find themselves on the bottom.”
Harper-Madison mentioned the listing is preliminary, however it shouldn’t have been revealed as a result of it contains a number of unviable areas. Some websites are at present being developed by the town, just like the 20-acre tract at St. Johns Avenue and I-35 that used to be a Home Depot. Some areas are inside a floodplain or are at excessive threat of wildfire. One other website listed as a risk is a city-owned cemetery.
“This course of primarily goes to be set again by the truth that we’re having to deliberate a map the place most of those areas aren’t even an choice,” she mentioned. “That’s a waste of time we don’t have. That’s a waste of assets we don’t have.”
This story was produced as a part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.
The Austin Monitor’s work is made attainable by donations from the group. Although our reporting covers donors once in a while, we’re cautious to maintain enterprise and editorial efforts separate whereas sustaining transparency. A whole listing of donors is out there here, and our code of ethics is defined here.