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LAWYER: Man in video retweeted by Abbott not homeless

CBS Austin
CBS Austin
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Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Mayor Steve Adler unleashed another war of words on homelessness over Twitter after Abbott retweeted a video of a man attaching a car in downtown Austin.

On Friday, Governor Greg Abbott retweeted the post from another account saying, "Austin's policy of lawlessness has allowed vicious acts like this."

However, the video Abbott reposted was dated back to February 2018, over a year before Austin’s camp, sit, lie ordinance changed.

"These social media trolls, like the ones that have punked the Governor's staff, are creating a fear in our community that will ultimately make it harder for us to end homelessness,” Adler told CBS Austin on Saturday.

Adler called Abbott out on Twitter for retweeting the old post, but Abbott doubled down. He said, “That video was before you altered the homeless policy that made public safety WORSE."

"I was outraged. I was furious that governor Abbott would be so reckless and trying to score points with his [political] base,” said Attorney Krista Chacona.

Chacona is the attorney of the man in the video. She has been representing him since he was arrested after that incident. She said his family is upset Abbott posted the video because the man in it is not homeless.

"He had a place where he was living. He was paying rent. He was living in a home. He was not homeless,” said Chacona.

Chacona said her client suffers from mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities. She told CBS Austin, “It is all the more appalling that he would re-traumatize my client and his family by airing this video again.”

Chacona said she cannot speak into any more details about her client’s ongoing case.

However, she said Abbott’s tweet speaks to a much larger issue: there is a lack of mental health resources that are available in the state to help people. She works with a number of clients experiencing mental health issues, some of which are homeless.

“It is a real problem, because you can't be stable on the street,” said Chacona. “People steal your meds, you might lose your meds, you lose them on the bus, you’re always moving. It's easy to loose them, but for a lot of folks the medications themselves are very sedating, and that puts them at greater risks of being assault or exploited or taken advantage of.

Chacona added, "We need more money for addiction treatment, for outpatient mental health services, for inpatient mental health services. There are so many people that need beds, and the beds aren't available." She believes Travis County has been working hard to provide as much resources as they can, but the county is working with minimal funding from the state.

"They're always seeking grants, trying to find housing and making individuals with mental health issues a priority, but there's just not nearly enough out there," said Chacona.

Chacona and Mayor Adler say they want governor Abbott to stop attributing violence to the homeless population, and step up to fund services that could help more people get off the streets quicker.

“And not focus on hiding the challenge, but help us actually fix it,” said Adler.

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Governor Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to CBS Austin’s requests for comment on Saturday.

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