City of Austin

Project Overview

The EWB-GA Local Projects Team has partnered with the City of Austin to help address the lack of clean drinking water and sanitation (handwashing, showers) for the local homeless population.

Homelessness in Austin has become a divisive issue. When Proposition B passed in May 2021, the City began dismantling camps in public areas without providing alternative places for campers to settle. Consequently, people experiencing homelessness have moved to less visible locations (e.g., into the woods), which means less access to sanitation and other services. Lack of sanitation can spread disease, prevent employment, and cause suffering. In 2020, 256 people died on the streets of Austin (not necessarily due to lack of sanitation).

The project team plans to address this issue with portable showers and handwashing stations. The solution is to create a modular transportable design that can serve multiple camps.

Community Overview

A recent census counted a homeless population in Austin of 3,160 people (ECHO 2021 Census), a slight decrease from the previous year but an 8% increase from 2019. The ban on evictions expired on August 1, 2021, which could increase the population. While some members of the homeless community are employed, others support themselves through panhandling or donations.

Current Project Status

The project team has held meetings with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Austin Public Health and conducted visits to local homeless camps. House Bill 1925 passed in May 2021, prohibiting city-owned parkland for homeless camps, prompting the team to change the project, including finding a new client in the city. Nevertheless, the local project team has conceptually designed a portable shower system and is working with a local nonprofit, The Other Ones Foundation (TOOF), to bring the project to fruition. 

Getting Involved

The City of Austin Local team meets virtually weekly on Tuesdays.

For more information or to get involved, please email