Greg Abbott says Texas will open shelter for Austin's homeless

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Thursday announced that the state would be opening a temporary shelter to house the homeless outside Austin after the cleaning up of camps in the city sparked backlash.

The Associated Press reports Abbott said the 5-acre camp will be located 3 miles outside Austin on state land near the airport.

The camp will have portable restrooms, hand washing stations and local charities will provide food multiple times during the day, John Wittman, a spokesman for Abbott, told the news outlet.

The move comes after Abbott ordered the camps in Austin, the state’s capital, to be cleared or the state would intervene.

A city ordinance went into effect late last month that banned camping, sitting or lying in front of business entrances. The ordinance followed a previous policy that decriminalized homelessness and made it easier for homeless people to sit, lie and camp in more spaces across the city.

Shortly after the new ordinance went into effect this month, workers with the Texas Department of Transportation began disposing of piles of trash and left-behind belongings at 17 locations throughout the city, but especially camps nestled in highway underpasses.

Austin currently has a homeless population of more than 2,200, the AP noted, and it is growing.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler (D) said the state’s temporary shelter outside the city “can be constructive” but added that the focus would remain on finding permanent housing, according to the AP.