Homeless encampments: no one wants to think about them. The number of unsheltered homeless people is rising across the country and the state, and the number of homeless encampments is growing every single day to meet their needs. Most people feel really bad about the issue. They understand that homelessness is a real problem, but most people, including homeless advocates, agree that homeless encampments are a permanent solution to the issue. Homeless encampments are usually extremely unsanitary, and they are located throughout many parts of cities and towns, disrupting the natural flow of business and life in communities everywhere.
Who lives in homeless encampments?
When you walk past a homeless encampment, you may be wondering about who exactly lives inside of them. Some of the residents are people who’ve simply run out of luck due to job loss and having no other means of support. Some of the residents are people who are struggling with mental illness or drug addictions. Some residents are people who are waiting on permanent placements in shelters or other types of more permanent housing setups.
What are the risks surrounding homeless encampments?
One of the biggest risks about homeless encampments is that they’re completely unsanitary. Residents at these apartments have nowhere to clean themselves. They can’t wash their hands, they can’t take baths, and they can’t wash their clothes on a regular basis. Because they’re unable to practice basic hygiene practices, the spread of disease is common.
Homeless encampments are filled with biohazardous and infectious waste. The danger with the type of waste is that it’s filled with pathogens. Pathogens are microorganisms that cause diseases in humans. When you hear of HIV, pneumonia, or HPV, you’re hearing about pathogens. Pathogens spread so easily inside of homeless encampments. People are touching the same items, they’re touching the same surfaces, they’re sharing utensils, and some of them are even sharing drug paraphernalia. This whole setup creates a perfect storm for a rise in infectious diseases.
Who’s responsible for cleaning homeless encampments?
If a homeless encampment is located in a public area, the city, town, or state is responsible for the cleanup. A “public area” could mean a stretch of land along a highway, part of a beach, or inside a public park. If a homeless encampment is located in a private area belonging to a business or a private residence, the owner of that business or residence is responsible for the encampment clean up. We can help you figure out who’s responsible for encampment cleanup in your particular situation.
Can we clean up homeless encampments ourselves?
Some people think that they simply have to get a group of kind-hearted volunteers together and clean up the encampment themselves. There are several reasons that this is not the best idea.
Homeless encampments are filled with extreme waste. This could include everything from vomit to blood and other unsavory biological matter. Skilled homeless encampment cleanup specialists know exactly how to handle this type of waste. A private citizen volunteering for a day may not be able to handle it.
On top of this type of waste being extremely unpleasant to deal with, it also needs to be cleaned up properly. California has very strict protocols in place that apply to the removal, cleanup, and disposal of biohazardous and infectious waste. Experienced teams know these rules and protocols and are prepared and equipped to follow them. They have the tools, equipment, cleaners, and PPE gear necessary to get the job done professionally, efficiently, thoroughly, and quickly.
How do cleanup specialists clean the homeless encampment?
The first thing that the cleanup specialists will do is take an assessment of the site. They’ll be able to gauge exactly how big the cleaning area is, how many people they’ll need on staff to handle the cleaning, what types of equipment they’ll need to handle the specific types of waste located at the encampment, and how long cleaning should take.
Once the assessment is done, the team will go in and break down any remaining structures. This includes structures that were used for temporary shelter, including boxes, makeshift tents, and blankets. It should be noted that if encampment residents have requested their belongings, arrangements usually will have been made with local authorities. Give us a call if you have any questions regarding this aspect of homeless encampment cleanup.
Next, all biohazardous waste will be removed from the site. It will be placed into special containers and bags that are tightly sealed so that the contents of the containers don’t leak or spill, possibly contaminating other surfaces or people.
Once the biohazardous and infectious waste has been removed, cleaning can begin. Using EPA-approved and OSHA-approved cleaners, solvents, and deodorizers, the team will scrub down the site, removing stains and getting rid of odors.
After this, the team will transport the collected waste to a medical waste facility where it will be destroyed. Biohazardous waste and infectious waste simply can’t be tossed into a garbage bin or dumpster. The strict rules surrounding its disposal protect the community.
How long will the cleanup take?
Professional teams are able to go into homeless encampment sites and clean them quickly and thoroughly. Some sites will take as little as a day to complete, while massive sites may take a bit longer. When you have professional teams who know what they’re doing, the job can get done quickly and efficiently.
Homeless encampment cleanup is definitely not something that private citizens should take on themselves. Give us a call so that we can walk you through the process that will be involved in getting rid of the encampment in your situation. We can help you restore the space in question back to its original condition.