Officials in Austin, Texas, have begun relocating homeless people in the Gaines Creek area after a resident made headlines last week for exposing the encampment’s environmental degradation.
The city said Tuesday that it has begun relocating people as part of an initiative to close out homeless encampments that pose the highest public health and safety risks.
Austin Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis said the need to relocate was “very apparent” after touring the encampment.
“There are many people living there in immediate need of emergency shelter and resources,” she said. “With evidence of campfires for cooking or warmth, wildfire protection was a critical priority.”
The city said homeless people are “voluntarily transferring” from unsheltered encampments to city bridge shelters where they are enrolled in longer-term housing programs. Officials said they plan to carry out an extensive clean-up of the encampment location.
The initiative comes after a Fox News Digital story last week, reporting on a series of videos from Austin resident Jaime Hammonds, showing environmental damage from a homeless encampment along the Violet Crown Trail.
The videos, shot by Hammonds himself, showed piles of trash littering the trial as far as the eye could see. Hammonds reported seeing cars, trailers, mountains of garbage, needles, human waste and hundreds of homeless people.
“I just want to say that I appreciate the City finally stepping in and offering housing to the folks living in the encampment,” Hammonds said of the city’s latest initiative. “I am also thankful that our work helps not only people experiencing homelessness but the environment we all live in and enjoy.”