Piloting Leave No Trace Programming with People Experiencing Homelessness on Public Land in Austin Texas

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2020-04-24

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Abstract

This Master's Report explores the use of Leave No TraceTM (LNTTM) programming with people experiencing homelessness (LNTPEH) on public land in Austin, Texas and a close analysis of the systems impacting innovative change. Increasingly, Austin’s municipal land is negatively impacted by unauthorized camps housing people experiencing homelessness (PEH). A pilot study conducted in the spring and summer of 2019 documents the impact of LNTTM programming with PEH, while allowing delayed eviction and connecting residents to social services. This report begins with an introduction to the state of homelessness in Austin and discusses challenges faced by urban land managers when mitigating the impact of PEH on public land. Next, this report discusses adaptations made to LNTTM programming to address the unique challenges found in urban unauthorized camps. This analysis uses a systems thinking lens to examine common system archetypes that impacted the outcome of the pilot project. Finally, this report outlines a strategic plan for Leave No TraceTM programming with people experiencing homelessness, which can serve as a framework for reducing the impact of these camps while engaging residents in stewardship activities and social services. Several recommendations are outlined for the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department. Key Recommendations include: • Use the LNTPEH Strategic Plan outlined in this report as a framework to begin a systems analysis of current conditions impacting PEH on public land • Identify small-scale projects to mitigate for current systems archetypes addressed in this report. • Provide training for staff in systems analysis and in navigating interactions with PEH Leave No Trace Programming with People Experiencing Homelessness 5 • Procure a third-party consultant versed in systems thinking and analysis in order to facilitate a more robust discussion and action plan addressing PEH and the associated impacts to parkland These recommendations serve as a starting place for land managers within Austin and beyond to examine the impacts of homelessness from a systems thinking lens and to ultimately open a discussion about what role public land managers hold in mitigating the impacts of homelessness to people and the land.

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Tucker, LaJuan (2020). Piloting Leave No Trace Programming with People Experiencing Homelessness on Public Land in Austin Texas. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20543.


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.