I am a 20 year old female attending the University of Texas and live in West Campus. I have not gone one day since I started here in fall 2018 without seeing or having to interact with a homeless person while I walk to a friend’s apartment or to and from class. I worry about my personal safety every single time I leave my apartment, especially at night. Too many of us have had to step over sleeping homeless people on the sidewalks or had to pay to Uber home instead of walking ten minutes out of fear of being approached by a homeless person who is high on drugs.
I have personally seen these actions done by or between homeless people: knife fights, yelling arguments, public defecation, trash cans being flipped and dumped out onto the sidewalk, unsterile dogs barking aggressively at passers by, been hit on the head with a plastic sword by a homeless man, been approached by a drunk homeless man who was telling me I was pretty, and those are just a few instances I can remember off the top of my head as I write this. Everyone I know has similar, or more severe stories as my own.
Austin NEEDS to do something more to solve this concerning issue. I have many friends who have chosen NOT to attend our highly competitive, well renowned university because of this very concern and no other reason. Austin City Council and Austin Police Department need to do more to help these people get off the streets and into a job or a shelter, not just take their furniture away and give them tickets for blocking a sidewalk that they have no way of paying. Austin should care about all people involved, UT students and these homeless people who need help getting off the streets. Whether it is by law or non governmental collective action group, there needs to be effort made by the City Council and the citizens of Austin to help increase sanitation, safety, and the overall well being of our city’s residents.