Downey, California is home to about 113,000 people. However, about 300 of the area’s residents are homeless. These numbers are from 2019, and they’re likely higher now. Some of the reasons for the growth in homelessness in Downey include the high housing costs, shortage of affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments and the economic troubles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. When an individual or family loses their home, they don’t have many options. Many shelters operate at reduced capacity, and funds aren’t available for hotel stays. Some people might try to stay in their car, but they’ll either be told to move the vehicle or pay a parking fine. This leads to many homeless people to create temporary or makeshift shelters that are usually hidden out of street view. These places are called homeless encampments. They’re illegal occupations of private land by groups of homeless individuals or families. If you’ve discovered a homeless encampment on your private residential, commercial or industrial property, you can turn to Eco Bear for help. We’re an experienced cleaning company offering homeless encampment cleanup in Downey and the surrounding area.
What a Homeless Encampment Is
A homeless encampment is a collection of makeshift shelters located close together. The encampment usually has several individuals or families. Sometimes, dozens of people gather together in the encampment. The shelters are made of gathered or found materials, such as scrap wood, plywood, pallets, tarps, cardboard, corrugated metal and sheathing. Tents may also be used in homeless encampments. The people occupying the space don’t have permission to be there. The encampment is usually hidden from passersby. It may be located behind a warehouse, near storage yards, along railroad tracks, in scrubby or wooded areas and in other places where the property owners don’t often inspect.
Why Homeless Encampments Are a Problem
Homeless encampments are a problem for many reasons:
- Spread of infectious diseases
- Accumulation of human waste
- Illegal wiring connections
- Burning of combustible materials for heat
- Accumulation of trash
- Increase in criminal activities
- Pest infestations
All the debris in a homeless encampment makes the area unsanitary and unkempt. It can lead to a drop in property values. Home and business owners may not be able to renew their insurance policies if they allow the homeless encampment to remain on the property. The occupants of a homeless encampment often have mental health, drug or alcohol abuse problems. This can lead to an increase in criminal activities, such as burglary, vandalism, auto theft, breaking and entering, panhandling and illegal drug use. In some cases, violent crime goes up when there is a homeless encampment in a neighborhood. The FBI defines violent crimes as those that involve the use or threat of force. Robbery, aggravated assault, non-negligent manslaughter, rape and homicide are violent crimes.
Types of Hazards in Homeless Encampments
Homeless encampments don’t have sanitary sewers or plumbing lines. When the occupants of the encampment need to go to the bathroom, they may do so directly on the ground or in buckets they dump onto the ground. The accumulation of feces may spread infectious diseases, including:
- E. coli
- C. diff
- Hepatitis A
Homeless encampments may also be contaminated with blood. Many dangerous bacteria and viruses can contain hepatitis B and C or HIV.
An accumulation of human feces also attracts pests. Vermin including ants, flies, rats and mice may be drawn to the area. These pests bring their own set of problems including fleas that carry plague bacteria and hantavirus.
If one or more of the residents of the homeless encampment use illegal drugs or alcohol, the site may have sharps, drug works, drug paraphernalia or leftover illegal drugs. If illegal drugs are manufactured on the site, dangerous chemicals could be present. Some other possible hazards in a homeless encampment include:
- Dirty needles
- Broken glass
- Shards of wood or metal
- Fuel for cooking or heating
- Combustible materials to burn for heat
- Unsafe wiring with unlawful connections to utility poles, residences or businesses
Why You Shouldn’t Clean a Homeless Encampment on Your Own
Most people don’t have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep themselves safe when working with the contaminated materials and other hazards in a homeless encampment. It just takes one accidental puncture with a used needle to cause serious harm. The amount of debris in a homeless encampment makes it very difficult for one people or a team of untrained individuals to take on this onerous task. Eco Bear’s skilled cleaners are experienced in handling all the hazards at Downey homeless encampments. We quickly clean the debris left behind so that your property will be safe, sanitary, clean and appealing.
How Eco Bear Cleans Homeless Encampments in Downey
We begin by removing debris, such as the makeshift shelters and clothing. Next, we disinfect contaminated areas, such as fences, trees, signs and paths. Last, we restore the area. This process includes removing any graffiti, repairing paths and cutting overgrown vegetation. We provide you with documentation of the cleanup for insurance and legal purposes. All contaminated materials are properly disposed of in biohazard bags and taken to a hazardous waste processing facility. All debris, including trash and recycling, are removed. Our homeless encampment cleaning services take one to a few days to complete. Once we’re finished, there will be no sign that a homeless encampment was ever there.
Eco Bear Is Here for You
We’re available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, all year long for homeless encampment cleaning in Downey. Our thorough and cost-effective cleaning services keep your residential, commercial or industrial property safe, sanitary and secure. We treat you with respect and provide consistent communications at all times.