Hundreds of Pounds of Homeless Trash Collected in Austin

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Hundreds of Pounds of Homeless Trash Collected in Austin

(Credit: KLBJ staff)

The City of Austin's Violet Bag program was designed with the intention of allowing the homeless to clean up their own messes through the use of violet trash bags at various campsites.  The bags can hold up to 16-gallons of trash and were handed out earlier this year.

According to Austin Resource Recovery, more than 500 pounds of trash has been collected since the pilot program began.  A total of 119 bags have so far been collected, ARR says.  However, that number is far smaller than the 2000 bags that were initially handed out when the pilot began.

The program also requires a sizeable amount of manpower.  Despite much of the trash already being pre-bagged by the people living in the camps, the city is using resources from six different departments.

"The Office of Design and Delivery, Public Works, Parks and Rec, and ARR are involved in this effort," says Amy Slage with Austin Resource Recovery.  Travis County Integral Care is also involved in the cleanups.

"ARR is collecting the bags, another department is purchasing and distributing the bags," Slagle says.

The first phase of the program, which began in July and lasted seven weeks, was tested in four areas:

  • Ohlen Road and Highway 183 in North Austin
  • Cameron Road and Highway 183 in North East Austin
  • Cesar Chavez and Interstate 35 in Central Austin
  • Packsaddle Pass and Highway 71 in South Austin.

The program will be re-evaluated at the end of October, but plans are already in place to expand it beyond the current four sites where it has been tested, possibly even citywide by early next year.  Along with that expansion, the city will also be installing more violet bag kiosks that will hold even larger trash bags. 

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