In liberal Austin, many residents balked at the proposal to ban camping. The Austin American-Statesman was flooded with letters opposing the proposal. “Trespassing on private property already is a crime; every place is either public property or private property, and a law higher than that of city ordinances requires human beings to sleep,” wrote Laurence … Continued


Jose E. Martinez, a former city planner, and his allies moved to take control of public space. In 1993, they won approval for a business improvement district, a special taxing area through which businesses can fund lobbying and private security. The money launched the DAA with Martinez at the helm, and in 1994, he started … Continued


In the 1990s, Austin’s homeless ran up against another nationwide trend: downtown revitalization. After three decades of disinvestment, developers and investors wanted the central business districts back—and the unhoused were in the way. “It was intolerable,” says Jose E. Martinez, the original director of the downtown business lobby group, the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA). “The … Continued


Austin experienced an economic downturn in 1986 that ultimately led to an increase in the homeless population “as people lost their jobs or were evicted” from their homes. Because these people additionally had a decreased access to healthcare because of their financial situations, the Health and Human Services Department began to develop programs in order … Continued


In 1985, the Austin City Council formed the Task Force on the Homeless as a response to the Salvation Army’s need for a new shelter location as the SA struggled to gain approval for a site. Members of the Task Force included people from Austin’s business community, citizens from various neighborhood around the city, special … Continued


In 1987, the Interim Planning Board for the Homeless began implementing Austin’s Five-Step Plan to End Homelessness.


In 1985, former KVUE reporter Pat Comer lived on the streets and in the homeless shelters of Austin for weeks to report on the conditions. “One hundred to 200 men sleep on mats on the concrete floor with the rats and the roaches,” Comer said in a report. That same year, Austin formed its first … Continued


In the Austin Homeless Final Report Provided to the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health by Dr. Donald Bauman claims that his study was “the first empirical investigation in Texas to comprehensively explore the characteristics and needs of the homeless, particularly their mental health needs.” A major portion of Baumann’s study focuses on “deinstitutionalized persons,” or … Continued


The 1980s was the decade of awareness, even as the homeless population was still referred to as “transients.” Homelessness in Austin is not a new issue. Homeless people have always been part of the fabric of the city, living on the streets and camping in secret places. And as Austin grew, so did the number … Continued


Began as the Medical Reference Service “when the Ladies of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul at St. Theresa’s Church noticed a gap in medical services available for the less fortunate and decided to do something about it. These well-connected women persuaded private physicians to see patients in their office free of charge…”