AUSTIN, Texas — The City of Austin’s Department of Public Works is spending $390,000 this year to contract cleaning services for areas underneath bridge overpasses in Austin.
Prior to May, the Texas Department of Transportation provided those cleaning services. That responsibility switched to Austin Public Works back in May.
Coincidentally, several homeless people choose to camp under the overpasses, which is the same area where crews clean up trash.
“We understand there are people in these locations that are experiencing homelessness, and that does come with another layer of added debris and trash and other items,” Austin Public Works spokesperson Kyle Carvell said. “We feel like it’s definitely our responsibility to make sure those areas are safe for all of our residents in this community.”
Carvell said crews clean about 60 areas under overpasses in Austin once per month.
But even though the City’s cleanups started around the same time the City’s camping ordinance passed, Carvell said the underpass cleanups are not specific efforts to clean up homeless areas.
“These cleanups predate any ordinance changes that may have happened earlier this summer related to homelessness or camping,” Carvell said. “Like I mentioned, we have a responsibility to make sure that these areas are clean and are safe. And that is what we are doing now.”
Currently, the City is paying the same amount for the contracted cleaning services that TxDOT paid previously, according to Carvell.
Carvell said Public Works officials are considering increasing the number of times certain overpasses are cleaned each month because some areas collect more trash now, which take longer to clean up.
The $390,000 contract lasts from May 2019 to May 2020, but it is unclear if that price for these services will change in the future given the new trash accumulation in certain areas from homeless communities.
Right now, Carvell said Public Works is operating the services within the budgeted amount.
MORE KVUE HOMELESSNESS COVERAGE:
- Texas Mutual Insurance Employees aid in Community First! Village project
- City of Austin launching new 'Guided Path' pilot focused on homeless 'encampment strategy response'
- As Austin gears up to possibly change ordinance, City gives state of homelessness updates
- KVUE takes a deep dive into Austin's homeless issues, with all-day coverage Wednesday
- Austin City Council expected to revise homeless ordinance Thursday
- Williamson County sheriff, homeless veteran call out Austin Mayor on city's homeless issues
- Governor calls on Austin to reverse camping ordinance in new letter to mayor
- Austin’s newly-hired ‘homeless strategy officer’ moving to consulting role for city
- 'You will die without me': Abuse and its connection to becoming homeless
- 'I used to think no one was there for me.' How one church is helping hundreds of homeless get housing
- Gov. Abbott puts more pressure on Austin Mayor to fix city's 'homeless crisis'