(KLTV/KTRE) - Most cities have a plan for just about everything – from financial downturns, power failures, even civil unrest and other emergency services. But many cities don’t have a plan to address the homeless issue.
In some East Texas cities – especially the major ones, municipal plans that truly address homeless population needs are short or non-existent. Recently, this issue was magnified here in Texas when the city council in Austin, our state capital, revised laws about camping in public. It was a move resulting in large homeless camps appearing under highway overpasses and in other public space. It quickly became a health and safety issue for the homeless and nearby business owners and other residents.
Governor Abbott stepped in and used TXDOT to clean the camps out from the overpasses. The largely liberal Austin city council and mayor are often at odds with the largely conservative state government. So, these camps were cleaned, and the homeless population dispersed for now. The governor has pledged to re-clean as needed. This doesn’t solve the issue, it simply hides it, some. But the Austin city government must take the lead and rally city services, non-profits, even the church community to solve this issue.
The same applies for local city governments – every large city – Longview – Lufkin – Tyler – Nacogdoches and others have homeless populations. So, before east Texas becomes a flash point, like Austin, our local leaders need to act. The homeless population won’t be going away and they can’t be brushed into the shadows – we owe it to them to have a plan – and that will make for a Better East Texas.