East Los Angeles is a culturally vibrant, diverse area with a rich history. As one of L.A.’s oldest neighborhoods, this area has seen significant change over the past few decades, as residents have fought to improve their quality of life while retaining much of the area’s strong, hispanic heritage. There are several stores to check out, like Espacio 1839, a local vintage retailer, and other trendy boutiques within walking distance. East L.A. is also famous for its food, characterized by a distinct, homestyle Mexican flare. With taco and burrito joints seemingly around every corner, you’ll never go hungry here. And, on any given day, you’ll find locals cruising down Whittier Boulevard, East L.A.’s most famous street. Beyond the bustling business scene, East L.A. is home to 126,926 people, as of the 2010 census. The area is expected to grow exponentially in the future, as more people migrate away from pricier central L.A. With more people, development and growth, however, housing supply may fall short compared to demand. Though there has been a concentrated government effort in recent years to help the issue, East L.A. unfortunately struggles with high rates of homelessness and homeless encampments. 

In 2020, a national study found that 66,433 homeless people were living in Los Angeles County, a 12% increase from 2019. More than 4,500 of that population was reported to be in East L.A. It is clear that L.A. County is facing a homelessness crisis, and that more policy and funding is needed. Unfortunately, legislation can take time and get mired in bureaucracy, further delaying crucial resources that homeless persons desperately need. And, the longer homeless persons in East L.A. spend on the streets and in homeless encampments, the more they are exposed to crime and illness. Fortunately, several actionable steps have taken place in the past decade to help homeless persons all over Los Angeles County. In 2019, the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority broke ground on a historic, 61-unit affordable housing structure in East L.A. The area will specifically serve homeless veterans and struggling, low-income families. As homeless persons in East L.A. move into more facilities like these in the coming years, there will be a greater need for professional homeless encampment cleanup. 

Homeless Encampment Cleanup

Homeless encampments, often referred to as “tent cities” or “transient camps,” are commonly found in major cities like Los Angeles. And, because East L.A. is so close to the bustle of downtown, it also sees many homeless encampments. Homeless encampments are typically made of makeshift or temporary housing structures spread over a wide area, but a typical homeless encampment in East L.A. can usually be found under a freeway bridge or even on a busy sidewalk street. Homeless camps are characterized as more than one homeless person living together, and can vary in size and condition. 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 of business and residential growth. And, as residents of East L.A. continue to strive for a high quality of life, there is an increased effort to help homeless persons get help and support. 

A Growing Concern

There is mounting evidence that, while homeless women, men and children may benefit from socialization with others, there are more environmental and health concerns by staying in homeless camps for a long period of time. Health is the primary motivation for closing homeless encampments, as they can be hotbeds of bacteria and biohazard materials. Overall, when local law enforcement shuts down a homeless camp, they should also provide a safe alternative for the occupants to go. There should also be a safe, lawful and comprehensive effort to restore the environment to its prior state. Unfortunately, because East L.A. faces an extensive homelessness problem, local government agencies may be unable or unwilling to handle cleanup responsibilities due to lack of funding or resources. In turn, the responsibility will get put on residents or homeowners. This necessitates a professional homeless encampment cleanup company with a track record of experience, adequate training and a comprehensive plan to take on the process instead of an individual.

Cleaning up a Homeless Encampment

Because homeless camps can be exposed to many different things, there are several biohazard concerns to consider during a homeless encampment cleanup. Even though there has been more 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 persons have pets as sources of comfort. There may also be drugs and drug paraphernalia with bio-fluids or blood present, which must be disposed of immediately and in a safe way. In addition, litter can become a huge environmental concern if it spreads too far. A professional homeless encampment cleanup company will begin by cleaning these physical items, and then performing sanitization and restoration. When sanitizing, a homeless encampment cleanup company will use medical grade sanitization products that most members of the public don’t have access to. They will also use the proper tools, like goggles, gloves and masks or respirators, to ensure that the proper safety measures are followed.

As a last step, the homeless encampment cleanup company will restore the area as close to its original condition as possible, which is the main objective in the entire cleanup process. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the area will not return to a homeless encampment in the future, but a safe, thorough restoration will make the area usable for humans and animals alike for years to come and incentivize the area to remain that way.