Clean City Strategy

As part of our commitment to the health and safety of our community, the City of Austin launched the cross-departmental Clean City Strategy in 2019. Through programs that engage people experiencing homelessness, the City helps to maintain clean, hygienic spaces for everyone. This is particularly important during the response to COVID-19, where our movements and choices can impact the health of so many. 

NEW: Violet KeepSafe Storage

In addition to the services listed below, the City of Austin launched a new transitional storage program in 2020 to help people experiencing homelessness safely store important items with access every weekday. 

Violet Bag Program

Developed and piloted by the City of Austin Service Design Lab in 2019, the Violet Bag program empowers people experiencing homelessness to maintain spaces around them by providing trash bags and disposal kiosks near known encampments. The program transitioned to Austin Resource Recovery where it was expanded to regularly service about 20 locations in 2020. Throughout the response to COVID-19, the program has helped keep spaces cleaner while minimizing physical contact between residents and service providers. 

Previous Coverage of Violet Bag Program

Public Space Cleaning Service 

Following ordinance changes in 2019, the City of Austin departments responsible for keeping public spaces clear of potentially hazardous clutter and debris coordinated cleaning schedules with each other to maintain standards. The Public Space Cleaning Service provides in-person assistance and guidance for cleaning areas while they are inhabited, removing items that are either trash or not permitted for safety reasons. 

Notices of the cleaning service are posted a week in advance and in response to COVID-19 were temporarily halted before resuming with pre-cleaning delivery of trash bags, gloves and masks for residents. 

Memo to Mayor and Council with more information, sample postings, and high-level schedule 

Ground Restoration Service

The safety of our neighbors and environment, as well as existing codes and ordinances, require that some spaces remain uninhabited. While the City has adopted the CDC guidance not to remove or relocate anyone during COVID-19 unless there is an immediate safety threat, there is still a need to restore previously occupied grounds to their previous state. This includes parkland, watershed lands, areas near Austin Energy substations, and other environmentally sensitive  spaces. . 

In these instances departments work together to minimize the negative impacts on people experiencing homelessness, sending outreach staff from HOST, PATH, or staff embedded within Parks and Recreation and Watershed Protection, to engage people experiencing homelessness prior to any removal and restoration activities. 

Workforce First

Developed as a partnership between Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Austin Public Health, The Other Ones Foundation and Family Eldercare, Workforce First offers people experiencing homelessness extremely low barrier employment opportunities. Earning $15/hr creates an alternative to panhandling and paves pathways to stable employment and housing. Participants are provided transportation to and from work sites, lunch, counseling services, job training, connection to banking and saving services, and access to social services. As of July 1, 2020 Program participants have collectively earned $337,800 and removed nearly 200 tons of trash from green spaces - with 62 having moved into stable housing.