AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to Mayor Steve Adler demanding Adler and Austin City Council address the growing homelessness crisis in the city before Nov. 1.
According to Abbott’s office, if big changes are not put in place by then, the Governor himself will use every resource and state agency he can to address the problem, in order to “protect the health and safety of Texans in Austin’s jurisdiction.”
In the letter, Abbott says, in part: “Further inaction by you [Adler] and the Austin City Council will leave me no choice other than to use the tools available to the State of Texas to ensure that people are protected from health and safety concerns caused by the Austin homeless policies.”
In the letter, Abbott explains several ways different state agencies might be used to address the problem and protect Austinites.
- The Health and Human Services Commission could adopt rules in the areas of communicable disease, sanitation and health protection
- The Department of State Health Services could use its authority to investigate and monitor people, property, animals and areas that might pose a threat to the prevention and control of disease
- The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality could review the city’s water quality standards, because, according to the Governor’s Office, the water quality could suffer in there’s increased defecation and other waste related to homelessness
- The Department of Public Safety could add troopers and security to areas that pose greater threats
- The Department of Transportation can use its authority to remove property that blocks roadways or puts public safety at risk
- The Office of the Attorney General to demand penalties given due to health nuisances
“I will give you until November 1, 2019 to demonstrate consequential improvement in the Austin homelessness crisis and the danger it poses to the health and safety of the public,” Abbott wrote. “If meaningful reforms are not implemented by then, I will direct every applicable state agency to act to fulfill my responsibility to protect the health and safety of Texans in your jurisdiction.”