Community Rallies to Say Homelessness Is Not A Crime

April 2, 2018

Community calls for Austin City Council to repeal ordinances that criminalize homelessness

WHAT: Press Conference and Gathering Ground “No Sit/No Lie” performance

WHO: People experiencing homelessness and their allies with the DecarcerateATX coalition, with speakers from Gathering Ground, Texas Fair Defense, University United Methodist Church, and Grassroots Leadership

WHEN:   Tuesday, April 3 at 9 a.m.

WHERE: Austin Convention Center, Atrium Entrance (Trinity St. & E 4th St..)

AUSTIN — The Decarcerate ATX coalition will be holding a press conference on Tuesday morning outside the Fair Housing Summit to address the city ordinances that criminalize  homelessness. Individuals who have experienced homelessness will speak along with their allies from faith, service, and advocacy organizations. The action will be followed by a performance of "No Sit/No Lie," a play by the Gathering Ground Theatre group about the realities of homelessness and the right to rest.

The City of Austin currently criminalizes homelessness through three local ordinances. Ordinance 9.4.14 prohibits lying or sitting on a sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in the downtown Austin community court area. Ordinance 9.4.13 bans actions related to panhandling, particularly in downtown during daytime hours. Ordinance 9.4.11 bans camping in public areas, including storing personal belongings, using a tent/car as a living accommodation, and cooking. The Decarcerate ATX coalition is calling for an immediate repeal of these ordinances and an end to the criminalization of homelessness.

The Fair Housing Summit will join local advocates and officials with national policy makers to discuss solutions for affordable housing. “In addition to talking about fair housing, let’s not omit that Austin is putting people in jail for homelessness instead of providing homes, jobs, or services. These ordinances do not deter people from living outside when they have nowhere else to go. By funneling people into the criminal justice system, these ordinances make it more difficult for people to secure housing and employment,” said Cate Graziani, criminal justice campaigns coordinator with Grassroots Leadership.

Contact: 

Cate Graziani, cgraziani@grassrootsleadership.org, (512) 499-8111