Texas Homeless Network

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Austin, Vote No on Proposition B – Let’s Double Down on Solutions

Austin, Vote No on Proposition B - Let’s Double Down on Solutions

By: Nick Thomspon

Early Voting: April 19-27, 2021  |   Election Day: May 1, 2021
Please Vote NO on Prop B

Find a polling place using the Travis County Clerk Website

Because there has been so much misinformation about the proposition, let’s start with the text of the proposition first. Below is how Proposition B will appear on your ballot

“Shall an ordinance be adopted that would create a criminal offense and a penalty for sitting or lying down on a public sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in and near the Downtown area and the area around the University of Texas campus; create a criminal offense and penalty for solicitation, defined as requesting money or another thing of value, at specific hours and locations or for solicitation in a public area that is deemed aggressive in manner; create a criminal offense and penalty for camping in any public area not designated by the Parks and Recreation Department.” – Proposition B, 2021 Austin Municipal Ballot

From the text above, a “Yes” vote would re-criminalize (and/or double down on current ordinances) three different actions by people experiencing homelessness: 

      1. Criminal offense or penalty for sitting or lying down on a public sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in and near the Downtown area and the area around UT
      2. Criminal offense or penalty for non-aggressive solicitation (often referred to as panhandling) 
      3. Criminal offense for camping in any public area not designated by Austin Parks and Recreation

A “Yes” vote on Prop B does NOT

Homelessness in any community (including Austin) is not stagnant and operates similar to a basic algebra formula: 

# of people become homeless – # that exit homelessness = Total number of people in sheltered or unsheltered homelessness

While I think we can all agree that we wish housing folks would come faster, I’d like to take a moment to highlight the important work of our local housers: 

It’s important to note that we cannot and should not take a one-size-fits-all approach to those currently experiencing homelessness or those exiting homelessness. We need our Austin neighbors (both housed and unhoused) to come together with a massive buy-in to solving homelessness in our city. 

Ending homelessness does not start with criminalization, it starts with housing.

We can and must simultaneously vote “No” on Proposition B and push our local, state, and federal agencies and politicians for sustainable housing solutions. The city cannot solve homelessness on their own. When Austinites decide how to vote on Proposition B, they should know that this is not an either/or question but a both/and question. We can (and must) work to decriminalize homelessness and continue to find solutions to quickly house folks who fall into homelessness. We must also double down on homelessness prevention measures to keep folks from having to experience it in the first place. Either, we all find common ground and work together to create solutions, or we ignore the problems and approve policy that hides the issue and pushes it down the road (often further perpetuating acts of state violence). That is the true dichotomy we have with this vote and that we face regarding state legislation designed to create barriers and push homelessness to the fringes. 

A “No” vote on Proposition B would: 

      • Reduce interactions between people experiencing homelessness and police 
      • Allow housers to remain the primary contact for those experiencing homelessness not the criminal justice system
      • Reduce systemic barriers to housing without added criminalization and expensive fines
      • Allow those living in encampments easier access to services (including emergency services when necessary) than hiding away from plain sight

While all politics is local, our unhoused neighbors also need our leaders at the Capitol and Governor’s Mansion to invest in solutions (solutions = housing), not just here in Austin, but across the state. Texas Homeless Network works with communities across the entire state and we know that homelessness is not specific to Austin or Texas’  urban areas. Each legislator at the Capitol, has tens, hundreds, or even thousands of constituents that are homeless and/or at risk of homelessness in their own districts. 

Austin – Voting “No” on Proposition B is just a start. THN and our partners across the state are committed to ending homelessness on local, state, and federal levels. 

We need you to join the fight for sustainable housing solutions, not criminalization. 

Here are some folks that you can follow to find out more about homelessness and/or Proposition B in Austin: 

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Thanks to our colleague and community advocate, Lindsay LaGrange, for these graphics.

Austin, Vote No on Proposition B – Let’s Double Down on Solutions
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