Mayor Turner reveals plan to deal with homelessness

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is taking aim at the issue of homelessness in the city proposing new ordinances and asking city councilors to identify locations where temporary shelters could be constructed.

Mayor Turner will ask the council to approve an ordinance to ban tents on public property. He is also proposing an ordinance to prohibit obstruction of roadways, in an effort to decrease panhandling.

"The most effective tool to reduce or eliminate panhandling would be for Houstonians not to give," Turner said, "And as hard as it is not to, what we have to have to realize is we cannot be enablers."

Turner urges Houstonians to donate directly to agencies that provide services to people who are homeless like Star of Hope, New Hope Housing, and The Way Home.

Turner's self-described "tough love" approach includes construction of temporary outdoor shelters with bathrooms. He wants city councilors to propose possible locations.

"I simply don't want to, myself, dictate, 'it will be here'. I think we have to work in collaboration, city council, neighborhood groups," Turner said, "If there are people saying, this is not the best location, well then help us to identify a location that would be better."

Turner would encourage church groups and other organizations to feed the hungry at the temporary shelters, where representatives from nonprofits could connect them to other services they need.

"It would be wrong to tell these people they cannot be here or there without providing a suitable alternative," Turner said.

He's also calling on apartment complex owners who have vacancies and want to help to call The Way Home at (832) 531-6051.
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