The homeless population on Red River: What people are saying

Austin American-Statesman music writer Deborah Sengupta Stith recently wrote about last week’s Austin Chronicle cover story, which addressed the tension between music venues in the Red River Cultural District and the growing homeless population in the area, due in part to the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) at the intersection of Seventh and Red River streets.

Light art is on display for "Creek Show" in and along Waller Creek in downtown Austin, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Light art is on display for “Creek Show” in and along Waller Creek in downtown Austin, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

As both Stith and Chronicle music writer Kevin Curtin pointed out, it’s a complex issue with no clear solution, but it’s one that requires discussion. Here’s what Statesman and Austin360 readers were saying about the story on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

Many of the commenters bring up issues addressed by Curtin in his story:

  • The lack of police patrol in the area. Curtin interviewed the executive director of Front Steps, a nonprofit which helps the homeless at the ARCH, who said the original plans for the facility included plans for a police substation and officers stationed in the facility, but budget cuts at the Austin Police Department led to those plans being changed.
  • Those using and dealing K2. The synthetic drug has been a huge problem in Austin the past few years, as Curtin points out, with hundreds of people being hospitalized last summer and more than 1,611 users being treated for K2 use in 2016, according to Travis County paramedics.
  • Why not just move the ARCH? It’s not that simple, Curtin reports, since it’s in the middle of other necessary services for Austin’s homeless or poverty-stricken, like the Salvation Army and the Caritas.

As Stith writes, “Homelessness in Austin — and anywhere — is a complicated issue that needs to be approached thoughtfully and cautiously.”

RELATED: Travis County jury gives 5-year sentence in first K2 trafficking trial


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