Austin starts ‘phase 2’ of violet trash bag program to clean up homeless campsites


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin is expanding the “violet” trash bag pilot program to clean up homeless camping sites which started a few months ago.

The city says crews distributed about 1,700 bags in seven weeks since the program started in July.

In “phase 1,” four areas were chosen that get the most trash-related complaints called into Austin’s 311. The areas picked include Ohlen Road and US Highway 183 in North Austin, Cameron Road and U.S. 183 in northeast Austin, Cesar Chavez and Interstate Highway 35 in central Austin and Packsaddle Pass and State Highway 71 in south Austin.

The city estimates between 50 and 80% of the bags were filled for pickup.

Now Austin will begin testing “phase 2.” Bag kiosks are being added to all locations and the city is also testing bigger bags and some containers that can be picked up by collection trucks instead of by hand. This second phase will also add a site at Pleasant Valley Road and Cesar Chavez Street in east Austin.

The program is set to end at the end of October. At that point, it will be reevaluated and the city will look at recommendations on how to expand it city-wide.

Over the weekend, Gov. Greg Abbott took to social media to ask people in the Austin area to share photos and videos of what he referred to as “public safety threats and pictures showing unsafe conditions that demand action.”

The governor has been growing more vocal about the “homeless crisis” in the city. Earlier this month, he sent a letter to Mayor Adler stating if the homeless situation in Austin doesn’t get better by Nov. 1, he will direct state agencies to intervene.

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