Mission Viejo, with a population of about 100,000 residents, has the distinction of being one of the largest master planned communities built in one project or phase in the United States. In fact, Mission Viejo is second only to Highlands, a sprawling master-planned community outside Denver, Colorado.

Despite the meticulous planning that went into the development of Mission Viejo, coupled with the fact that it is a vibrant, thriving community, it has not been spared from the problems associated with homelessness. Indeed, Mission Viejo is facing homeless encampments, a phenomenon that up until the past several years was generally associated with areas like central LA. 

Definition of Homeless Encampment

There exists some confusion among residents of Mission Viejo regarding homeless encampments. In basic terms, a homeless encampment is defined as a gathering of more than one homeless family or multiple unrelated individuals. The public at large oftentimes has referred to a homeless encampment as a “tent city.” (On some level, calling these types of congregations tent cities is a misnomer. Most people who live in homeless encampments do not have the benefit of an actual tent for shelter.) A homeless encampment, in Mission Viejo or elsewhere, can comprise just a few people up to over a hundred.

The Expansion of Homeless Encampments

Homeless encampments were thought of as being developments that occurred in central Los Angeles. They were not seen with anything close to regularity at locations much beyond central LA when considering Southern California in its entirety.

That scenario has all changed in recent years. The stark reality is that homelessness can be seen in virtually any city in Southern California, including Mission Viejo. As the breadth of homeless geographically expanded, so has the rise of an ever increasing number of homeless encampments in communities like Mission Viejo.

In this day and age, an argument can be made that no community is immune from the establishment of homeless encampments.  Indeed, the trend towards homeless encampments at points beyond historic locations of these developments continues apace and is not expected to slow, let alone abate, any time soon.

Biohazards and Disease at a Homeless Encampment

The vast majority of residents of Mission Viejo bear nothing akin to ill will towards the unfortunate people who’ve found themselves homeless and living in homeless encampments. In fact, many people in the community volunteer their time and donate money to assist disadvantaged people. Moreover, a great deal of regular discussion occurs among residents of Mission Viejo about the need to come up with long term solutions to the homelessness crisis that exists in the city and throughout Southern California.

One area of concern associated with homeless encampments is the presence of biohazards and the spread of disease in and around homeless encampments. One of the realities of life in a homeless encampment is that there oftentimes is no access to toilet facilities. Thus, residents of homeless encampments are left having to defecate and urinate out of doors and in a manner that results in exposing people in and out of an encampment to hazardous pathogens. These include different types of disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

There is a considerable number of individuals residing in homeless encampments that use drugs. This includes illicit substances that are injected. As a result, contaminated needles are oftentimes found in and around homeless encampments as well.

Crime at a Homeless Encampment

The current crime rate in Mission Viejo is 62 percent lower than the national average. With that noted, another reason why residents of Mission Viejo are alarmed by the prospect of increasing numbers of people ending up in homeless encampments in the city is a crime. Research into homeless encampments consistently reveals that when an encampment rises, so does the crime rate. There are specific types of crimes that notch upward at and around homeless encampments:

  • Theft
  • Assault and battery
  • Drug crimes (use and sales)
  • Sexual assaults
  • Public urination

While this criminality activity definitely impacts people living in homeless encampments, it also affects the neighborhood around homeless encampments. Issues surrounding crime represent a major reason why residents of Mission Viejo are highly concerned about the prospect of increases in the homeless encampment population in the city.

Professional Homeless Encampment Cleanup

Because of the likely biohazards associated with a Mission Viejo homeless encampment, professional assistance is wise when it comes to homeless encampment cleanup. In addition, individual cities and counties have different regulations in regard to what can and cannot be done in regard to homeless encampment cleanup. In addition, there can also be court decisions that impact the manner in which a homeless encampment cleanup is undertaken.