The August 21, 2020 brush fire at an Indio homeless encampment, publicized the growing Southern California problem. During 2017 and 2018, the counties of Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles and Kern experienced an increase in their homeless population.

The populations have spread to a wider area, settling in makeshift encampments. The brush fire outbreak confirmed the municipalities’ need to clean up the encampments by placing the homeless in programs for housing, education opportunities and substance abuse treatment to alleviate the underlying problems.

Currently, in Riverside County, for example, about 25 percent the homeless population lives in a shelter such as Indio’s Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, while 25 percent lives in a makeshift camp, between 13 to 14 percent live in an automobile and the rest reside under bridges or in abandoned buildings or parks.

Most of the 82 homeless families live in a shelter. Only five families reported a different situation. Adults comprise about 80 percent of the county’s homeless population. In Indio’s city limits, the city has cleaned up numerous camps, but keeping the area clean requires vigilance since, despite the city services offered, many homeless individuals return to the area to attempt to re-establish camp. One man said he refused to stay in a shelter since he would need to give up his dog and live separately from his girlfriend. Although a temporary situation, some individuals find the separation more unbearable than living on the street. 

Eliminating the Underlying Problems Causing Homelessness 

Many municipalities turn to Eco Bear to help clean up the encampments after the homeless re-locate to a permanent shelter or the city helps them obtain traditional housing. These makeshift encampments usually consist of temporary structures like tents or lean-tos. Other people build self-help housing – a form of housing that uses found materials such as tarps, plywood, tin, etc. to construct a house or house-like structure to provide protection from the weather and a safer living environment. Brush fires can easily spark in these camps since people use campfires to provide heat and light at night.

Many people think solving the plight of the homeless relates to a simple housing issue. It does not. The reason for an individual or family becoming homeless varies and the underlying problem must be addressed first. For example, the nearby city of Riverside shut down a large-scale encampment on August 22, 2019. The relocated to shelters about 40 individuals. About one-quarter of that number chose to remain homeless for various reasons.

One homeless man interviewed at the camp said that many of those who chose to remain homeless that day have severe drug addictions and chose continued substance abuse over a shelter that would require them to remain clean. The people who do choose relocation are often domestic violence survivors who became homeless to avoid severe abuse, individuals with mental health disorders, people with terminal medical conditions including HIV or AIDS and those who only became homeless when laid off from work and unable to find a new job.

Homeless Encampment Cleanup in Indio 

Simply camping in an area not designed for such purposes causes certain biohazards including human waste in exposed areas. The problems such as drug abuse that result in an individual becoming homeless also create significant biohazards such as discarded needles and other drug paraphernalia. The Eco Bear cleanup team cleans the camp by properly disposing of empty alcohol bottles, drug vials, drug baggies, needles and weapons. While it is not usually anything as unique as such as the grenade a municipal cleaning team found in a Sepulveda Basin, cleaning teams do find a variety of weapons.

Eco Bear works with municipalities in the Coachella Valley to provide a humane method of cleaning these homeless encampments to reduce the health risks the surrounding community. Our empathic methods have avoided the problems that the Los Angeles police and its CARE program have experienced.

Due to the biohazards of the camps including human waste, found materials, drug paraphernalia, etc. municipalities turn to the biohazard experts at Eco Bear who formed a homeless encampment cleanup team.

The Eco Bear team enters the homeless camp after the city relocates the individuals and families. We continually show respect to the camp that they called home while carefully removing and disposing of hazardous materials according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as state and local health department guidelines. Due to the short period of time, the camp residents usually have to pack, about 30 minutes, we often find remnants of childhood such as a child’s drawings or toys. We show respect to these, cataloging them and providing them to authorities in case the camp residents attempt to collect them.

Eco Bear helps the overall community to restore its aesthetic and natural beauty. Getting the homeless population into treatment facilities and shelters only solve part of the problem. The impacted neighborhoods need litter leftover cleaned up and properly disposed of to create a restoration of community safety. A community needs to look and feel safe as well as be safe.

Since the homeless who refuse shelters and treatment centers often try to reestablish the camp, some areas get inspected daily post-cleanup. At these spot checks, the cleaners remove any new camp-related materials. These spot checks often also uncover newly homeless individuals who move into the area. These spot checks help discover other homeless individuals or families which the municipality then assists by placing the people in a homeless shelter or halfway house or providing them the resources for substance abuse treatment or medical or mental health problems medication and treatment.

Let Eco Bear Help 

Contact Eco Bear today to get help from our homeless encampment cleaning company in Indio, California. We can help restore your neighborhood and community to its prior beauty. While your community helps the homeless find shelter, Eco Bear helps you clean the camp, returning it to a safe place for all residents.