Homeless arrests rise as Austin prepares to host large events

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Austin Police Department arrested 300 homeless people in the first weekend of the recently enacted Public Order Initiative.

For the duration of October, APD will target their attention to property crimes downtown to reduce public violence. The Public Order Initiative is not permanent, but will continue for several weeks until APD reaches a decision about whether to continue action at the end of the month.

The number of arrests in Austin has tripled since the start of the initiative, most of them coming from the homeless. Homeless advocates including Caritas, a non-profit organization that assists the homeless to achieve self-sufficiency, suspect the initiative is directed at cleaning up homeless people from the streets.

House the Homeless, an advocacy group for the impoverished, is disturbed the enactment of the initiative coincides with events that attract large crowds from outside the city, including Austin City Limits and the opening of the Formula One track. APD insists this correlation is purely coincidence, leading advocacy groups to believe that the initiative is a money-making scheme rather than an action to improve order in Austin.