Governor Says the Homeless Cannot Sleep in Public Places

Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton tell local communities to enforce House Bill 1925, making it illegal for individuals to “camp” in public parks.

In an executive action on Sept. 9, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a joint letter to the Texas Association of Counties, the Texas Municipal League, and cities across the state urging officials to enforce House Bill 1925.

In June, Abbott signed HB 1925 into law, which went into effect on Sept. 1. The bill bans camping in public places throughout the state, mainly focusing on the large homeless encampments.

“Local entities like yours should uphold the rule of law by enforcing this public camping ban,” reads the letter. “In the coming months, we will be monitoring local entities across Texas to ensure compliance with House Bill 1925. We trust that you will begin enforcing the public camping ban in good faith. Doing so will achieve our shared goal of delivering improved services for the homeless and safer communities for everyone.”

The letter was also sent to Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, El Paso, Arlington, Corpus Christi, and Plano.

According to the governor’s office, “several successful service providers testified in support of HB 1925 during the 87th Legislative Session, with many noting that it is almost impossible to reach people experiencing homelessness with available services when they are located in camps.”

These same providers said many of the camp’s conditions are inhumane. Citing the campsites are often littered with garbage and human waste, which serves as a breeding ground for human trafficking, property-related crimes, and drug use.

In the letter, the governor and attorney general reminded local officials that “significant federal funding has been made available to local entities to help the homeless, totaling an unprecedented amount of over $358,000,000.”

During August, the state provided $52.9 million to homeless service providers and plans to make an additional $100,000,000 available next month. Additionally, $92,505,049 was awarded to homeless service providers through ESG-CARES funds.

The governor and attorney general indicate that if local officials fail to enforce the law, the result could be costly litigation and a loss of state grant funds.

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