[Hpn] Public Sleeping Ban UNCONSTITUTIONAL - Judge rules in Austin, TX fwd

Fri, 19 May 2000 23:18:23 -0400 (EDT)

P.O. BOX 2312  AUSTIN, TEXAS   78768-2312
(512)796-4366     www.HousetheHomeless.org

The following comprises my comments to the Austin Texas City Council 
following Judge Coronado’s finding that a portion of our “No Camping” 
ordinance is Unconstitutional:

Greetings: My name is Richard Troxell.  I am President of House the Homeless, 
Inc.  Our organization is comprised of volunteers of homeless and formerly 
homeless citizens and those that would end homelessness in our life time.

On Tuesday, May 16, 2000, Travis County Magistrate, the Honorable Jim 
Coronado, in the 299th Judicial District Court of Travis County, issued a 
Final Ruling in the “No Camping/ Homeless Ordinance” trial.  The judge ruled 
that the portion of the ordinance that turned the poorest of our citizens 
into “criminal sleepers” was unconstitutional.  The judge wrote, “The 
Petitioners have shown on behalf of their ‘Class of Homeless’ that the 
portion which relates to sleeping in public, or making preparations to sleep, 
including the laying down of bedding in a public place is a violation of due 
process.  And, it is so vague as to promote discriminatory enforcement as it 
fails to provide any standard for an officer to discern whether one is 
camping in public, (or) taking an innocent nap in a public place.”

House the Homeless recognizes that there are other major portions of the 
ordinance that are also unconstitutional.  Therefore, we, the poorest 
citizens of Austin, call upon the duly elected members of the City Council to 
set aside this ordinance and repeal its use as it has been 1. a waste of tax 
dollars, 2. inappropriately punitive, 
3. unconstitutional, and 4. selectively enforced against the poorest among us.

Instead, we call upon this Council to exercise it’s legal authority under the 
state laws of Texas to raise the minimum wage standard for all workers to at 
least the same level that the city presently pays the least of it’s workers.  
(It is a known fact that the Federal Minimum Wage of $5.15 per hour will not 
empower anyone to secure even the cheapest form of housing in Austin.)  

Given the opportunity, we the homeless of Austin, will work ourselves off of 
the streets of Austin.  We call for the Passage of a Fair, Universal Living 
Wage  for all citizens.  Why should taxpayers be needlessly burdened with 
paying for excessive public assistance, when those of us who are not 
disabled, if paid a fair living wage, would be able and willing to house 

The Universal Living Wage Formula is based on:  1. existing governmental 
guidelines and 2. the moral premise that anyone who is willing to work a 40 
hour week, should be able to access housing.  The ULW Formula can be found on 
our website:  www.HousetheHomeless.org.  

Thank you, 
Richard R. Troxell