Houston’s homeless get handwashing stations amid pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every community, even the homeless of Houston. Trae tha Truth’s Relief Gang helped deliver some hope to the homeless on Monday, including portable hand washing stations, masks, and Christmas gifts.

Relief Gang teamed up with Rise Church to make sure the homeless are able to wash their hands and wear masks just like everyone else.

"Water is a necessity," said Ivan Davis, who lives in a tent next to I-69 and Richmond Ave. "It really is."

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Davis told FOX 26 he had to walk several blocks to Alabama Street just to find a place to wash his hands. That was until volunteers delivered a portable pedal-powered hand washing station to the intersection where he lives.

The volunteers also delivered hand washing stations to a homeless encampment beneath I-45 near Pierce Street.

Homeless living there said they hadn’t seen a COVID-19 outbreak in their camp, but those who do get sick have a hard time finding their way to a good doctor.

"It’s real hard, especially if you don’t have ID like myself," said one man under I-45 who declined to give his name. "I don’t have ID or any kind of medical."

The handwashing stations were built and delivered by volunteers from Rise Church and rapper Trae Tha Truth’s charity Relief Gang.

"Especially with it being COVID, they can wash their hands and worst-case, they can at least try and clean themselves up," said Trae.

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"When everyone was saying wash your hands, take care of yourself, we knew homeless couldn’t do all of the things we can to stay safe," said Stan Depue with Rise Church.

Volunteers also delivering gifts and other goods to the homeless who told Fox 26 they’ve gotten less help during the pandemic.

"Less—way less—because they are afraid to pass the food out," the unidentified homeless man under I-45 told FOX 26.

He and Davis both said a lot of churches have still been sending out volunteers to feed the homeless.

Star of Hope has continued to provide shelter and clothing as well, and the Salvation Army is also providing shelter and throwing a Christmas lunch for the homeless in Galveston.

The City of Houston has also been working to help the homeless, according to this statement from the City: As a public health response, The Harris Center, the City of Houston, and Harris County have developed the COVID-19 Community-Wide Homeless Housing & Mental Health Respite initiative. Located at 6160 South Loop East, this center will provide transitional housing to at-risk individuals with mental illness and connect them to new innovative services, decreasing the number of individuals in crowded shelters or on the streets.

The services provided at this location will increase access to housing, treatment, and resources for this vulnerable population and reduce the need for psychiatric emergency services. The new programming will reduce relapse and provide ongoing outreach to achieve rehabilitation and housing stability.