AUSTIN, Texas - On Tuesday, the Austin City Council was briefed on the latest efforts to end homelessness. One of those tools is Austin Resource Recovery, which is conducting cleanups.
“There is a total of 61 underpass locations where cleanups are happening, the state is performing cleanups at 17 of those sites. As of this week, the city performs cleanups at 41 sites,” said director Ken Snipes.
The city is doing most of the work, however, Snipes says, with the help of the state, things are progressing smoothly.
“We are a joint team and trying to work on resolving the issue as much as we can together,” he said.
Snipes says workers are not just showing up at underpasses and kicking people out, but talking to them.
“We definitely respect people their possessions and property. We start out by giving them a 72-hour notice a cleanup is going to take place. We also use it as an opportunity to connect them with services,” said Snipes.
Service is the next step. ECHO presented a pilot outreach program they hope can yield big results.
“That is a relatively new program. It was done with additional funding from the City of Austin. Those outreach individuals are also going outside of downtown and interacting with individuals experiencing homelessness, connecting them with resources," said Austin City Council member Kathie Tovo.
David Gomez of Integral Care talked about their PATH program which gets people from under bridges and into the hands of a doctor and a home.
“We are out there providing human experience for individuals who are homeless. If we go into a campsite under a bridge or along railroad tracks, the people we interact with, we will try to help them in whatever way we can,” said Gomez.
Camp cleanups are happening at parks, watersheds, and underpasses and overpasses, but these advocates believe it is the group of resources that will yield the most results and get people off the streets.