Blythe is a small town nestled on the California-Arizona border, situated in the expansive agricultural community of the Palo Verde Valley. In 2018, Blythe’s population was nearly 20,000 people and that number continues to grow as more and more people stop in the town permanently on their way to other cities. Some major attractions in and around Blythe include the Mayflower County Park, where hundreds of campers visit each year and the nearby Mule Mountains. In addition, the cannabis industry (legalized in CA in 2016) has proved to be an extremely lucrative business for planters in Blythe and has helped to revitalize the economy. 

But, like many other community experiencing increased growth and sprawl, there has been an increase in the homeless population in recent years. Riverside County, where Blythe is located, saw an overall increase in homeless youth and adults of 11.45% between 2015 and 2016. To combat this, the Blythe Police Department created the Homeless Outreach Team and has been putting received government funding towards providing more shelters and outreach plans in the coming years. As more and more homeless are moved into stable homes and gain access to crucial resources, there will be a greater need for homeless encampment cleanup and restoration.

Homeless Encampment

A homeless camp, sometimes called a “tent city” or “transient camp,” is usually made of makeshift or temporary housing structures. Sometimes, those who are homeless find these common environments safer than being alone on the streets. But, many also see these types of camps stunting local business and residential growth in neighborhoods, and there have been many calls nationwide to crack down on these communities. There are growing concerns that homeless men, women and children face more environmental and health concerns by staying in homeless camps for long periods of time. Overall, when an authority shuts down a homeless camp, there should be a safe alternative for occupants to go. There should also be a safe, lawful and comprehensive effort to restore the environment to its prior state. Unfortunately, sometimes the cleanup effort is either too in-depth or pricey for Blythe city or council agencies to take on, and in turn get tasked upon residents or homeowners. 

Homeless Encampment Cleanup

Because homeless camps can be exposed to many different things, there are several biohazard-related concerns to consider during a homeless encampment cleanup. It is a challenging process, and one that calls for sensitivity to a difficult situation. Even though there has been increased effort to install restrooms at homeless camps, human waste in the form of feces and urine is still common. In addition, animal waste and carcasses are both likely in an outdoor camps, as many homeless people have pets as sources of comfort. Drugs and drug paraphernalia, like used needles, are often leftover or improperly disposed of, posing a huge health concern to those cleaning. Litter and other plastic pieces of trash are also usually common in and around the camp, and can create environmental repercussions for years to come. Residents or homeowners may have no idea where to start with a cleanup effort or may have the improper training or materials. It is extremely important to have the right cleanup materials, like gloves and body protection. For these reasons, hiring a professional, committed homeless encampment cleanup company is perhaps the best solution to ensure the area is 100% safe for future use. 

There are several steps a professional cleaning company takes to remediate biohazards found at a homeless camp. They are: cleanup, sanitization and restoration. First, this includes disposing of any leftover physical items that contain hazardous bodily fluids or biological substances, like blood or plasma. A professional company abides by strict health standards outlined by the California Health Department, ensuring a lawful cleanup. A professional company also has access to higher-grade, potent sanitizing materials that target bacteria for a deep clean. Using medical grade supplies also confirms that any lethal pathogens will be gone for good, making the area safe for humans and animals alike. Lastly, the company will make every effort to restore the area to its original, natural state usable for any purpose. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the area will not return to a homeless encampment in the future. This is and will most likely continue to be an issue for Blythe Law Enforcement in the future, but a full, professional cleanup will make the area safe and within local sanitation codes for the time being. 

For all these reasons, hiring the services of a full-scale, biohazard cleaning professional to sanitize a homeless encampment is the best recommended course of action. If you are experiencing or are at risk of facing homelessness in Blythe, CA, there are several homeless shelters and other resources that provide help to those in need. Many of these shelters also provide drug and alcohol addiction support. Please check this website for more information on resources for homelessness in Riverside County.