It’s generally wise to study solutions to a problem and assess the successes and failures before taking a vote on it and putting a policy in place. But no one who has observed Austin’s mayor or city council over the last few years would look to them for wisdom.
On June 20, 2019 the Austin City Council voted to allow the homeless to camp out in public areas. That policy went into effect on July 1, an unusually short time-frame for such a sweeping public policy hit the streets. Austin’s media, homeowners and business leaders barely had time to blink.
On July 9, more than a week after the policy went into effect, Mayor Steve Adler left town.
And he posted this on July 10.
That third agenda item raised hackles back in Austin. Adler got it all backwards and took pride in his folly. You generally study, learn, then vote. Not the other way around.
Adler visited Los Angeles and Seattle. Los Angeles has become infamous for its bursting homeless problem. The media’s favorite word for it is “surging,” which sounds a little better than “completely and totally out of control and making a once great city medieval.” Los Angeles business owners are getting fed up with the city’s massive homeless tent city and the other problems — trash, human urine and feces, used needles, typhus (yes, typhus) — associated with a rampant, unchecked homeless problem fostered by a clueless and permissive city leadership. So they’re placing or building things the Democrats claim don’t work on the border — physical barriers.
Peter Mozgo and his wife, attorney Maria Janossy, told Fox & Friends on Friday that they’re losing potential customers because more and more people are sleeping on the sidewalks around their business, the Hungarian Cultural Alliance. In response, they set up about 140 large planter boxes, hoping it would force homeless people to set up their tents elsewhere.
Mayor Eric Garcetti has claimed “full responsibility” for the issue — but done nothing effective about it. It’s a false mea culpa without actual repentance. Perhaps that’s what Mayor Adler went all the way to Los Angeles to learn. Spin.
Meanwhile back in Austin, homeless tent camps popped up all over town, and not because the homeless were suddenly flush with enough cash to run down to Academy and splurge. They popped up their tents because now the city explicitly allows them to. Cause, meet effect.
Adler also visited Seattle on his West Coast Junket.
Seattle, according to one of its leading TV stations, is dying. KOMO’s Eric Johnson has been tracking Seattle’s response to its surging homeless problem for about years now. He says the city is “rotting from within.” Seattle Is Dying is his third in a series of documentaries focusing on what kind of city is being created by the failure to address its surging homeless problem.
This one is about everyone else. It’s about citizens who don’t feel safe taking their families into downtown Seattle. It’s about parents who won’t take their children into the public parks they pay for. It’s about filth and degradation all around us. And theft and crime. It’s about people who don’t feel protected anymore, who don’t feel like their voices are being heard.
This is who Mayor Adler flew off to the West Coast to “learn” from. A slow Seattle-style death may be Austin’s future as hard core left-wing ideologues strain their arms patting themselves on the back for their collective enlightenment.
If Mayor Adler really wanted to learn how to compassionately and effectively combat the homeless problem, he did not need to go all the way to the left coast. He just need to jump in the car and drive around Texas.
He could have driven up to Abilene. That mid-sized city has made a concerted and successful effort to house all of its homeless veterans. Six months ago Abilene succeeded: Its formerly homeless veterans are housed. This doesn’t take care of the city’s entire homeless population, but it’s a strong start. Abilene does not allow its remaining homeless to just camp out all over town.
Mayor Adler could have stayed even closer to home and driven a little over an hour south. San Antonio has done the opposite of what Adler’s Austin has done. San Antonio’s Haven of Hope, 60 percent privately funded, is described as a one-stop campus for helping the homeless escape their plight. It has been so successful over the past few years that it has become a national model. You don’t have to take that from me — KING TV in Seattle reported on it three years ago. One wonders if Adler didn’t fly all the way up to the Emerald City just to be told to pay a visit to the Alamo City.
The problems that foster homelessness in every city aren’t going away. Mental illness (which should be treated like a physical disease), addiction, poor life choices, job loss, family dissolution, dislocation — we will always have these issues. Haven for Hope has reportedly decreased San Antonio’s homeless population by about 15 percent, though, and put a few thousand on the path out of their bleak situations.
Notably, Abilene is run by Republicans; San Antonio, by Democrats. Adler could have looked like a bipartisan leader by seeking these cities’ council.
Letting the homeless just camp out all over town and cause disease, violence and other problems is obviously not the solution. Adler just keeps failing to lead, publicly and very conspicuously.
His failure is getting noticed. Residents post their observations of the growing problem daily. The media are reporting on it more frequently. KXAN TV reporter Phil Prazan recently mused whether it’s even causing some of the city’s progressive voters to side with Gov. Greg Abbott, Republican, at least on this issue.