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LA County Public Health Officials Work to Improve Sanitation and Living Conditions for Persons Experiencing Homelessness

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In response to recent health concerns around a skid row encampment, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) deployed teams of environmental health inspectors last week that checked area businesses for compliance with existing storage and trash removal regulations. Eighty-five businesses were issued notices of violation, and, this week, inspectors will revisit business establishments that received violation notices to ensure that corrective actions have been taken. In coordination with the City of LA, business establishments that fail to remedy violations may be subject to legal enforcement, including fines. County public health inspectors also surveyed 62 blocks in Skid Row and noted locations of overflowing dumpsters, trash strewn alleys and streets, and rodent burrows. This information is being shared with the City of LA in support of their significant efforts to address violations of illegal trash dumping by businesses and implement a rodent control plan. Public Health will continue to partner with city colleagues on initiatives that reduce unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

Public Health advises and works closely with government agencies and community partners to address health and safety concerns facing persons experiencing homelessness. The 2017 hepatitis A outbreak and the countywide increase in flea- borne typhus cases in recent years highlights the need for collective action to address sanitation issues, rodent and wildlife infestations, and illegal trash dumping. Public Health continues to collaborate with cities to mitigate unsanitary conditions, and to minimize public health risks that arise from illegal trash dumping by businesses, rodent infestations, and lack of adequate facilities for personal hygiene and sanitation at homeless encampments. Public Health’s efforts are also grounded in partnerships with other County departments and community organizations to connect people experiencing homelessness with needed services and supports, including interim housing, health services, and economic stability.

Public Health inspectors will continue to respond to complaints regarding conditions at other homeless encampments and are expanding surveillance activities to all known encampments throughout the County of Los Angeles; Public Health inspectors will work collaboratively with other cities to address concerns related to illegal dumping by businesses, excessive trash, rodents, and unsanitary conditions. Businesses are reminded that they are responsible for maintaining sanitation on their premises and must appropriately dispose of all trash. In areas where encampments are present, Public Health guidance for cities includes the following:

• Establish and maintain public sanitation systems, including adequate toilet facilities and associated handwashing stations provisioned with soap, water, and paper towels;

• Establish and maintain a plan for timely identification and subsequent cleaning and disinfection of accumulated feces, urine, and other waste; and

• Provide adequate waste receptacles and routine collection services to ensure waste does not accumulate on the ground surfaces at and around encampments, which are often used as “cover” for illegal waste dumping by businesses.

Cities are encouraged to enforce their municipal codes regarding the requirement that commercial businesses have solid waste services in place and the investigation and enforcement of unlawful depositing of solid waste on the ground.

If you have a rodent and or sanitation complaint in the City of Los Angeles, call 3-1-1. For other cities, call LA County 2-1-1.

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