Drag Rats

Drag Rat is actually defined: “The term Drag Rat refers to a unique population of homeless in Austin, Texas. The name originates from the unusual amount of time these individuals spend on Guadalupe Street, known to locals as “The Drag”… These panhandlers, gravitate to Austin from all over the country because of its reputation for being cool and laid back, are just part of Austin’s unique charm, according to many locals.”

I think these homeless people are different from others for reasons other than just their location. They are normally young, super aggressive, and kind of seem like they pride themselves on who they are and their place in Austin’s society.

They are often in groups and wear black. I once met a reformed, former Drag Rat who told me about her life living on the drag. She was addicted to heroin, eating out of the Taco Cabana dumpster and was raped. She was only 22 and had a family who lived in Bee Caves; her parents had kicked her out as a result of her drug use…

That is just one story, but there are probably hundreds of people who have led this life been at some point. It makes me sad when they have dogs, but then I think having a dog reflects on their humanity.

There are a lot of resources for homeless people in Austin and Drag Rats don’t seem to be interested in taking advantage of it. Nonetheless, I do hope (especially for the younger ones) that they can get their lives together and do something other then ask for spare change and cuss at you if you don’t give it to them.

****Not everything is black and white… there are all different kinds of Drag Rats with different stories, lives, situations, and attitudes.. Below are a couple videos depicting this population in a different light.

22 Responses to “Drag Rats”


  1. 1 Kristin November 10, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Drugs, dumpsters, aggressiveness…definitely all scary concepts. Of course, there are a wide range of “drag rats” out there. Not to contradict your opinion, but check out these videos from my classmates last semester for a closer look at the homeless:

    sorry they’re kinda long, but worth a look!

  2. 2 Kristin November 10, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    sorry…more specifically, the first one is musicians on the drag and the second one is about a German family who has an RV for the homeless and gives out food, prayer, and a kind ear to people who are ignored or shunned from society for the most part.

  3. 3 Samantha G. November 10, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Kristin, you are absolutely right. When I was looking for information to support my post, everything I came a cross was negative. I looked for photos and video clips but found nothing. Thanks, for sharing your opinion and videos. I updated the post, I hope it is a more accurate representation of this group of people now.

  4. 4 jeffbechdel November 10, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Samantha and Kristin, that “Cream and Sugar” video was made by my roommate (Jeff McWhorter). He does a lot of work with the homeless, and I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a few of the guys. Definitely a topic worth delving into. Everyone’s story is pretty amazing if you sit down and talk to them.

    Anyway, small world.

  5. 5 Kristin November 12, 2008 at 12:36 am

    How funny. The Jeff house. Small world indeed. Have you ever been to the church under the bridge with him? also another side to the world of the homeless. Just proves the adage, everyone has a story.

  6. 6 Holley N November 13, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    On what Jeff said about everyone’s story being amazing, I have to agree. As a Broadcast Journalism major, my first news story I did was about panhandlers and so I sat down on the drag to interview this homeless guy. A couple of hours later I was still sitting there listening to him talk about his daughter that he hasn’t seen in years and bad habits that he’s had in the past through his choked back tears. It really is incredible how different and yet alike we all are. We all want to be heard, but it takes a special person to sit down and listen. Great post!

  7. 7 Rachael howland June 25, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Bitch (person who wrote this), you have no idea what you are talking about. Drag rats have actually been some of the best street kids I met while traveling, and dont feel bad for the dogs… they are treated better than any pet you will ever own. Just because they dont have jobs to give them a house, they have time to give them love.

  8. 8 Bob November 5, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Ha. Best kids you have ever met? My ass. These people are drug addicted, aggressive, ungrateful, harassing pest. They are responsible for the majority of the stolen bikes in the area and when you decline to help them out, they become physically aggressive. I can think of at least a dozen times when these people have physically harassed locals, including myself.

    I now completely avoid the side of the drag opposite campus to avoid confrontations with these people. When the police refuse to do anything about their activities, not much else can be done.

  9. 9 austins culture November 14, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    “when the police refuse to do anything”? ive been robbed beat up and taken to jail sooo many times for doing nothing more than sitting. Fuck off.

    You UT kids ruined austin, stop sucking on uncle sams teat and actually have a damn conversation with someone other than your moms and pops.

    PS i dont think juggalo kids are a good reflection of “life on the drag”. Beautiful violin/banjo though.

  10. 10 fan of deo April 6, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    this is such a crappy article!! drag rats are disgusting assholes or stinky lil shits who don’t use deodorant and therefore stink up any space they occupy, outdoors included. they are ungrateful! they asked my friend and i for $$and we only gave them $1 and said, “share it”
    so the dick (“Cloud”)TORE THE BILL in half.
    like, you piece of shit beg me for money and i graciously give you a dollar and you tear it making it useless and worthless,JUST LIKE YOU! everything you touch turns to trash–a filthy rotting& stinking quagmire spreading like a swarm of fire ants up your leg. it rots away everything in its path…they are an outbreak on the city
    get some deodorant (there is even a crystal of the natural mineral that comes in big, rough marble thing you get wet and rub on your pits) PLEASE
    and get out of my city, you scum.

  11. 11 McCurdy May 12, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    They have dogs so they don’t get arrested for loitering. It’s a stupid loophole that lets them hang around the drag all day when I walk to class. Also I’ve seen them abuse those dogs.

  12. 12 Sasha March 24, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    To this “fan of deo”:

    Although it was kind of you to offer the dollar, it was a douchbag thing to tell him to “share it.” What the he’ll can you even get with a dollar in this day in age. Shit. So I usually just offer leftovers or bum them a five. I’m no yuppie to pass the dollar mark but that’s a decent coke and chips in 2012.

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  14. 14 Andrea September 16, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Oh wow. It is not that bad. Seriously? Have any of you guys been to Houston? It’s called don’t walk around somewhere you might get hurt or killed. If anyone has been around the University of Houston campus – then you know what I’m talking about. Neither side of this arguing party is right. Just keep safe and know that not everyone involved in this kind of thing “drag rat” or whatever is shit. Some of them probably had nowhere to go and ended up in a shitty place.

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