[Hpn] No Sitting/ No Lying/ No Sitting Ordinance in Austin, TX

RRTroxell@aol.com RRTroxell@aol.com
Sun, 14 Oct 2001 20:59:33 -0400 (EDT)


Fight On!

(City Passes No Sitting/ No Lying Down Ordinance)

Members of House the Homeless, Inc. vow to fight back against all repressive 
laws targeting homeless citizens!  Following a 4-3 Austin, Texas city council 
vote, five months of debate and numerous protests, House the Homeless has 
armed its members in the next level of fight in the on going street wars of 
the haves and have nots. 

House the Homeless contends that the “No Sitting/ No lying Down” Ordinance is 
a thinly veiled attempt to make an end run around Magistrate Jim Coronado’s 
and other judges rulings that sleeping and making preparations to sleep are 
constitutionally protected life sustaining acts. 

Magistrate Jim Coronado had deflated the “No Camping” ordinance when he 
wrote, “. . . the petitioners have shown on behalf of their class of homeless 
that the portion of the ordinance which relates to sleeping in public or 
making preparations to sleep is a violation of due process.”  We believe that 
this “making preparations to sleep includes 1st sitting down and then lying 
down.  

We know that one of the major reasons we are sleeping (sitting and lying 
down) on the streets is because there are no adequate alternatives and 
because the business community uses our labor but won’t pay us a fair wage 
for our work that would afford us alternatives.  They hide behind the federal 
minimum wage of $5.15 per hour and everyone knows you can’t get basic housing 
in Austin at that pay level.  Everyone knows that $5.15 per hour is slave 
wages and a theft of our labor.

Jim, one of the protesters said, “if they just pay a fair wage, we could get 
our own housing and get off these streets.”  

Its clear to House the Homeless that this is just one more mean spirited 
effort to rid the streets of Austin of the visible homeless.  But House the 
Homeless observes that the ordinance excludes anyone involved in a 
“Demonstration.”  So House the Homeless has launched a petition drive, a 
national campaign and an on-going “Demonstration” to protest these low wages 
not just in Austin but nationwide.  House the Homeless is arming all homeless 
citizens with a plastic card that reads: 

    “This is a constitutionally protected 1st Amendment, free speech 
demonstration whereby I am preparing to sleep.  I will continue in this 
expression of free speech/ demonstration until all employers pay all minimum 
wage employees a Universal Living Wage which will allow me to afford basic 
living facilities of my own choosing.”

When confronted by a police officer about sitting or lying down homeless 
citizens will have the opportunity to express their 1st amendment rights 
under the U.S. Constitution and explain that they are “demonstrating” for a 
Universal Living Wage.

the University of Texas Criminal Defense Clinic has agreed to defend these 
tickets on constitutional grounds.  The UT Criminal Defense Clinic has agreed 
to waive the $30.00 defense clinic fee for all members of House the Homeless 
(all homeless and formerly homeless persons are automatically members of the 
HTH).  House the Homeless meets @ the ARCH on the 1st Wednesday of each month 
from 2:00-3:00 pm.  The Universal Living Wage formula can be seen at 
www.UniversalLivingWage.org.  

City Council Members Alvarez, Griffith, and Thomas supported our concerns 
with their votes.