Fountain Valley is a beautiful suburban community in Orange County, California. With a population of 55,313 as of the 2010 census, Fountain Valley is relatively small compared to other areas in Orange County. But, it certainly does not lose any character or lack activities to keep its residents occupied. In addition to a bustling economy and great educational opportunities, Fountain Valley has miles and miles of green space for all to enjoy. Mile Square Regional Park is an expansive recreation area with two lakes, a golf course and a 20-acre nature preserve with California-native plants. If the beach is more your style, Huntington State Beach and Huntington Pier are within close proximity to Fountain Valley, and locals and tourists alike enjoy the relaxation and water sports all-year round. Families with young kids, young professionals and even retirees all agree that Fountain Valley is an incredible place to live.

But, like many other community experiencing increased growth and sprawl, there has been an increase in the homeless population in recent years. In 2019, Orange County reported almost 7,000 homeless people living within the area, an overall increase in homeless youth and adults since previous years. To combat this, the Fountain Valley Police Department and key aid nonprofits and organizations have 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.

What Is a Homeless Encampment?

A homeless camp, sometimes called a “tent city” or “transient camp,” is usually made of makeshift or temporary housing structures where homeless people reside overnight. They can be found in major cities, but also in suburban areas. They can also be found everywhere from under freeway overpasses and bridges, to public sidewalks, to rural parks. Sometimes, those who are homeless find these common environments safer than being alone on the streets, referring to “safety in numbers.” It is important to note from the start that anyone can face homelessness, no matter what gender, age or race. But, many also see these types homeless encampments stunting of business and residential growth in neighborhoods, and there have been many calls nationwide to crack down on these communities. They can be hotbeds of drug activity and otherwise unsafe activity. There are growing concerns that homeless women, men and children face more environmental and health concerns by staying in homeless camps for a long period of time, as a permanent shelter would provide a safer living condition. Overall, when an authority like the Fountain Valley Police Department shuts down a homeless camp, there should be 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, sometimes the cleanup effort is either too in-depth or pricey for city or council agencies to take on, and in turn get tasked upon residents or homeowners. When this happens, the residents may be completely overwhelmed by where to start, or what power they do have to maintain the area. Because of this, it is necessary that a professional homeless encampment cleanup company with a track record of experience, adequate training and a comprehensive plan takes 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 and ends up in public waterways. 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.

If you or a loved one is struggling with homelessness, there are several resources in Fountain Valley, CA you can seek for help.