El Paso officials respond to Texas House advancements of a bill that would ban homeless camps

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)- One of the latest bills making its way through the Texas legislative session would ban homeless camps in public areas if it makes it to the governor’s desk.

Last week, the Texas House passed legislation that would create a statewide public camping ban Thursday in an 88-56 vote.

Texas House Bill 1925 would also create a Class-C misdemeanor for anyone who violates by setting up camp in a public place, as well as punish local government if they don’t enforce.

El Paso City officials said there won’t be much of an impact locally if the bill does go into law.

Nicole Ferrini, the Chief Resiliency Officer for the City of El Paso, said El Paso already has a citywide ordinance in place that prohibits encampments.

According to City Ordinance:

No person shall camp in any city park, or set up any tent, shack, or other shelter, or lay out any bedroll or other sleeping equipment therein, except upon approval of the city council by resolution. This section does not apply to camping in permanent cabins or structures provided by the city for that purpose or to department produced activities or events.

City of El Paso Ordinance No.  17845, 13.24.060

Ferrini said permits are required and it’s typically for events.

“In addition to that, we have made a significant effort in homeless outreach and prevention so that we can keep the instances of homelessness low and so that we’re protecting those experiencing homelessness but also the communities in which they are present,” Ferrini said.

The bill would still need a final vote of approval in the House, while an identical bill in the Texas Senate remains in committee.

This story will be updated.

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