The problem of homelessness in California is becoming increasingly complicated with each passing year. The needs of the unhoused, surrounding communities, and local governments regularly clash in various legislatures, with legal battles on the state and federal level constantly revising mandated approaches.
One unfortunate but consistent problem this creates is the regular formation and breakdown of homeless camps inside of cities, as California’s unhoused population often fends for themselves on public and private property. When it comes time for these camps to be removed, homeless cleanup requires specialized companies like Mayfield Environmental Engineering to restore the area.
Homeless camps inevitably become sites where trash and waste pile up, often including illegal drugs and the dangerous paraphernalia and biohazards that come with them. This is in addition to the more mundane problems of mold and property damage that result from such dense congregations of people and the abandonment of structures the unhoused population has left behind. Those who have never had to deal with this unique group of problems would be surprised to find out just how much specialized labor is required to clean and restore a site safely and effectively.
The particular problems created by this work require special licenses, equipment, training, and experienced professionals, often requiring security during the process and with site inspections after the fact. Many different companies in California offer some of the required services, but Mayfield Environmental Engineering has gone to great lengths to secure all the required resources to complete homeless cleanups on its own.
Mayfield Environment Engineering has the demolition licenses and equipment to remove temporary structures like the campers, trailers, and vans often left behind on these sites by the unhoused. They also possess the Hazardous Substance Removal License for engineers, which few companies can claim they have.
They are the only company in Southern California with a full HAZWOPER-certified labor force. This complicated set of qualifications is required to do the work of homeless cleanup efficiently, an indicator of the effort it takes to address the legal, humanitarian, and logistical difficulties created by the problem of homelessness in California.
Some of the structures left behind at camps are large and complex and almost always horribly unsafe. These structures are often built of debris that has been illegally dumped at the site. Frequently, such dumps are what attract the camp to the location in the first place, as they provide resources for the unhoused to use for shelter.
Camps become full of structures that use discarded wood pallets, various metal debris, tents, and sometimes derelict vehicles. The nature of these structures makes them dangerous to live in, but also to dismantle or outright demolish. Specialized training and licenses are difficult to obtain, and the equipment needed is expensive and requires training as well.
It helps to have a labor force with HAZWOPER certification, as these environments are by nature hazardous. This certification also means the labor force is ready to work in confined spaces, which frequently occurs in these camps. These camps often become hotbeds for mold and other environmental hazards, or they were formed alongside high-risk infrastructure that no one is meant to go near, much less live beside. This results in situations of heightened risk for workers cleaning the area.
With the added possibility that illegal drug activity or poor medical hygiene has left behind illegal paraphernalia or even dangerous improvised medical equipment, a Hazardous Substance Removal License is all the more necessary. It is rare for a company of engineers to possess this license, but Mayfield Environmental Engineering puts it to regular use.
The cleanup of illegal drugs and narcotics, as well as sharps cleanup, goes along with the tasks of mold remediation and removal of biohazards and trauma waste, all difficult tasks in which Mayfield Environmental Engineering must unfortunately specialize.
It’s complicated, difficult, and often dangerous work, but cleaning the camps is a necessary first step in the process of repairing a site. Once all the specialized cleaning and hazard removal has been conducted, and dangerous structures have been demolished and removed, Mayfield Environmental Engineering begins further hard labor. There is still weed abatement and graffiti removal to take care of, as well as the boarding up of any permanent structures the site managers want to preserve.
Mayfield can also take a proactive role in preventing these kinds of problems from forming in the first place. They have professionals on staff who can provide regular inspections, as well as security who can monitor at-risk sites. This can mean keeping individual trespassers out of a job site or serving as a deterrence to prevent more extensive problems from forming over time.
This is part of an entire host of site maintenance services that Mayfield offers. It is, after all, a company that does much more than remove homeless camps. With services like fence installation, erosion prevention, and BMP installations, Mayfield keeps sites at their best. Prevention is a much better tool than remediation. A well-maintained site is unlikely to attract further problems.
With the state of California continuing to struggle with the needs of its unhoused population and efforts to manage these needs often creating unique new problems for communities, it is helpful to think of holistic solutions that include prevention as well as repair. This holistic thinking requires versatile companies that can see the entire picture and work on every part of the problem, from the inception of a site’s potential issues to the ultimate remediation of a troubled site’s cleanup. Such a company must also be able to repair an area when it is at its worst.
Some of California’s homeless camps have persisted for years, with dangerous structures having grown over time and long-term systematic problems creating hazardous conditions. Where structural and environmental problems meet the long-term fallout of unmet human needs, specialized expertise and coordinated efforts are needed to clean and restore the site. There are few companies in Southern California capable of approaching such a task, and Mayfield Environmental Engineering is the only one with such an extensively qualified labor force.
It is a resourcefulness grown out of an unfortunate need, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted that such a need can be fulfilled. In a situation where so many problems are so difficult to solve, it’s fortunate that Mayfield is capable of doing so much.