Nearly two months after a federal judge lifted a restraining order against Houston’s ability to enforce laws prohibiting homeless encampments, some residents are wondering why the “tent cities” continue to grow.
Though Mayor Sylvester Turner calls the decision to lift the order a “victory,” and continues to pledge his support for programs addressing homelessness, Museum Park residents contacted KPRC2 for answers about why the mayor’s office hasn’t enforced code violations at a homeless encampment under US 59 near Wheeler.
The camp has reportedly continued expansion since it began 15 months ago, but Museum Park isn’t the only homeless encampment causing residents to demand action.
KHOU first reported on a Houston man who penned an open letter to Turner, calling on him to take action against the city’s homeless encampment growth.
“It’s time for the mayor’s office to lead the charge, and the citizens to follow,” wrote Blake Robison.
Robison says he faces the reality of Houston’s homeless problem every day since he lives within walking distance of downtown destinations like Minute Maid Park and the Toyota Center.
According to Robison, the East Downtown Houston area is quickly becoming overrun with homeless individuals, who line the streets with tents and furniture. In one walk around the area, he reportedly counted 47 tents and five couches on city sidewalks.
“This is not what Houston should tolerate. It’s time to quit turning a blind eye and take action. The citizens of Houston, and the employees who drive downtown daily deserve better of our municipality. Maybe you cannot cure the homeless problem, but you most certainly can enforce the laws we have in place and pass new ordinances to make it just a little harder to live this way,” Robison wrote.
Robison sent his letter Feb. 19.
Although the city’s efforts were stalled by the temporary restraining order granted on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, which seeks to protect the rights of the homeless, Turner’s office claims there has been progress in recent months.
In December, Turner announced 500 homeless people had been given homes thanks to a 6 month-long initiative to house the homeless. Additionally, the city of Houston is considering partnering with METRO to create a “safe space” to help the homeless transition to a better life.