The homeless situation in California grows bigger and more dire every year. As more and more people are left homeless, it’s been a struggle for many of them to find permanent shelter. While there are organizations available in Rancho Santa Margarita and other places that are designed to help the homeless, the very presence of homeless encampments say that what’s being done is not enough at this time.

As more and more encampments show up throughout the city, cleaning those encampments has become a top priority. Everyone deserves a place to live, but the very presence of homeless encampments hurts the community and the encampment residents in ways that many people are not aware of. 

Homeless encampments are completely unsanitary.

One of the biggest hazards of homeless encampments is the presence of biohazardous waste. Biohazardous waste is waste that contains pathogens that cause diseases in humans. Massive amounts of biohazardous waste exist in homeless encampments. It’s found in substances like human waste, animal waste, blood, drug paraphernalia, blankets soiled with bodily fluids, and a host of other items. The bacteria and viruses in this waste allow for the quick spread of diseases like hepatitis A, pneumonia, and HBV. Unsanitary practices within the homeless encampments allow biohazardous waste to flourish.

One quick walk by homeless encampments reveals the fact that they are extremely unsanitary. People who live in homeless encampments don’t have access to clean running water, bathroom facilities, or places where they can use showers, take baths, or wash their clothes. Soap and other hygiene products are nonexistent. Just this one factor alone creates a situation where biohazardous waste is allowed to accumulate.

Another way that pathogens are spread through homeless encampments is because of the fact that everyone is touching the same surfaces. Sharing items like blankets, eating utensils, or simply touching a surface that someone else has touched exposes camp residents to all sorts of dangerous pathogens.

People have nowhere to store their food, so much of it rots. Food both fresh and spoiled attracts vermin, bringing another level of biohazard danger to the space.

Homeless residents often have dangerous substances that can cause danger not only to themselves but to the broader community.

Many homeless residents have items like tiny portable stoves or kerosene lamps that allow them to heat up food or enjoy some warmth. These types of combustible materials create a serious fire hazard, sometimes prompting local fire officials to come out and clear away the camps due to very real safety concerns.

Drug use is rampant in many homeless encampments, creating an excess of biohazardous waste due to the use ites like dirty syringes and needles. Even if a person does not use needles or drugs, they run the risk of being contaminated by them since many of these items are simply tossed to the ground once they’ve been used, creating a situation where someone could step on it.

Homeless encampments make it extremely difficult for businesses in the community to conduct business.

When a homeless encampment is located near a business, it’s hard for that business to attract customers or to convince them to even enter the business. The very sight of a homeless encampment is enough to put many people off going to that area. This is especially an issue when an encampment is located directly outside of local businesses. If local businesses aren’t able to thrive, the community itself loses out on needed revenue. 

Encampments can reduce the business stream for all types of businesses, including local restaurants, boutiques and shops, theaters, and outdoor entertainment venues. People simply don’t wish to patronize areas where they fear being harassed by certain types of homeless people or exposed to unsavory activities. Sometimes homeless encampments residents use bathrooms located at bigger entertainment venues in order to clean themselves or use the bathroom facilities. This can create a situation where other people in the community don’t feel comfortable using those spaces, again bringing down those businesses’ ability to bring in a constant and reliable revenue stream.

Homeless encampments reduce the quality of life in public places.

Public spaces are open to the public, so a homeless person being inside of the public space is not the issue. When an encampment’s presence prevents a public space from being used by other members of the community, that creates the issue.

While many people in homeless encampments are good people who have simply run out of luck, other residents are people who are chronically homeless due to past criminal activity or mental illness. This can create a quality-of-life issue for people who live or work near these encampments.

Who is responsible for cleaning up homeless encampments?

Once a homeless encampment has been cleared of its residents, the responsibility of cleaning the encampment falls to whoever owns the property where the encampment was located. This means that if it’s located on property owned by a business or several businesses, those businesses will be responsible for cleanup. If the encampment is located in a private residential area owned by a group like a homeowners’ association, cleanup will fall to the residents of that area. If the homeless encampment is located on public property, the encampment will be cleaned by the city, the state, or the federal government. Sometimes the line between who owns what gets a little tricky, so give us a call if you’re trying to figure out who is responsible for cleaning up an encampment in your area.

Homeless encampments are representative of a bigger issue going on in society. While people want people to feel safe and housed, homeless encampments are not the way. Give us a call if you have questions about cleaning up the homeless encampments in your area.