Austin Texas Lake Front

According to the Associated Press, Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently announced plans to to establish a 5-acre campsite for the homeless on the outskirts of downtown Austin. The move is sparking debate from all sides of the issue. "Outside of the national disaster context, I'm not aware of any state setting up an encampment like this," said Eric Tars, legal director for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty in Washington.

Like other fast-growing cities in the U.S., Austin has struggled with homelessness as housing costs skyrocket. On Wednesday, Las Vegas made sleeping on downtown streets illegal over protests about a "war on the poor."

President Donald Trump began a trip to California in September saying he would do something about homelessness but offered no specifics. He said cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco can't "destroy themselves by allowing what's happening."

But in Texas, Abbott has turned his attacks on his own backyard. The homeless in Austin grew more visible after Mayor Steve Adler and city leaders decriminalized camping in public places, which Abbott slammed as reckless and a threat to public safety downtown.

Abbott spokesman John Wittman said the campsite in on the city's east side will have portable restrooms and hand-washing stations. He said it will also provide access to homeless case workers and healthcare providers until a new permanent sheltering opens.

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