SAN ANTONIO (Texas News Radio) — It is now legal to set up homeless camps on the sidewalks of Austin — except for in front of city hall.

The Austin city council changed the ordinance to decriminalize homelessness 10 days ago, but the change went into effect Monday.  KVUE-TV also reports the council changed a city law only makes panhandling illegal if someone is being aggressive.

Austin mayor Steve Adler has said he believes this is an opportunity for his city to succeed where others have failed on the matter.

However, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted last week, “If Austin— or any other Texas city—permits camping on city streets it will be yet another local ordinance the State of Texas will override.  At some point cities must start putting public safety & common sense first.  There are far better solutions for the homeless & citizens.”

The Austin American-Statesman said it is now legal for people to sleep and set up tents on public sidewalks.

Adler said the city is in the right on the matter because public streets are public streets, and if people aren’t posing a public safety risk or health hazard, then they have as much right to be there as others.

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