New project providing water, masks and other resources for homeless in downtown Austin


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new project in downtown Austin aims to provide people experiencing homelessness with cold water and a mask as they navigate the pandemic.

It’s called Project H-2-O.

The Downtown Austin Alliance is leading the efforts with its team members and Austin police officers partnering to hand out the supplies and have socially distanced conversations with people in need. Many of those they’re interacting with are having a hard time accessing services during the pandemic.

“The act of kindness that people can extend is instrumental in terms of people feeling supported in an area where they may not have access to all the news. They may not hear the latest closures or other information,” said Downtown Austin Alliance Director of Operations Matt Macioge. “Having the opportunity to interact with someone and ask a question, pick someone’s brain about just generalities. You know, ‘Hey, I’m looking for some food, where’s a good place to get food?’ ‘Oh, well, Caritas is still providing services,’ — these are critical moments.”

This is the first week of the new program.

The Project H2O team will be out Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and also at times during the weekend.

Project H2O was launched as an extension of the Downtown Austin Alliance’s Downtown Ambassadors’ mission to help keep the downtown area safe and vibrant.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Downtown Ambassadors have conducted an increased number of clean sweeps each day and employed sanitation equipment and motorized vehicles to cover more ground throughout downtown and South Congress. The group also deployed hand washing stations downtown in high-traffic areas.

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