Homeless person huddled with belongingsIn many of our bio-hazard cleanup services, we find ourselves dealing with the aftermath of someone’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It may be due to suicide, or perhaps the individual is trying to cope by holding onto objects (hoarding disorder). Regardless of the outcome, knowing that PTSD may be at the root of someone’s issues makes it even more important for us to be caring and compassionate.

PTSD affects a growing number of people, predominantly women and veterans.  (The rate among women is almost twice that as for men.) And it appears there may be a connection between PTSD and homelessness.

We already know that veterans disproportionately suffer from both PTSD as well as  homelessness, so the possible correlation makes both these issues even more complicated. And what is even more confusing is that the link may go both ways, i.e., PTSD may result in someone becoming homeless, or being homeless may cause PTSD.

It can end up to be a difficult-to-break cycle.  Those living with severe PTSD often have difficulty holding a job, and drug or alcohol addiction is common, which further complicates things. Prolonged unemployment and substance addiction are common among the homeless, and these conditions can only aggravate PTSD.

Here are some startling statistics:

  • About one-third of living Vietnam vets suffer from PTSD
  • One in 10 homeless individuals is a vet (20% of males who are homeless are male vets)
  • On any one night the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development estimates about 40,000 vets are homeless
  • More than half of homeless vets are over age 50; less than 20% of non-veterans are 50+
  • About half of homeless vets have mental illnesses (PTSD makes up the largest group), and nearly three-fourths have substance abuse problems

Taking a good, hard look at the possible connection between PTSD and homelessness shows that providing affordable housing isn’t the simple answer. But we always believe that offering our services in with care and compassion is appropriate.

We have no answers to ending homelessness for anyone, especially vets. But as a company who regularly provides cleanup services for areas affected by the homeless, or by squatters or hoarders, we wanted to get the conversation started.




Although it doesn’t get as much attention as the problem of homeless encampments, there is a related issue – how to deal with and clean up after squatters.

A squatter is basically someone who occupies a property illegally. It’s related to the homeless problem because squatters are homeless individuals who have chosen to live in buildings or on private property rather than homeless encampments.

Those buildings may be vacant – anything from warehouses to homes. Perhaps the property is in foreclosure or it is a rental property without a current legal tenant.  Some property owners with their homes up for sale (who are not currently living in the home) have found to their dismay that the house has been taken over by squatters. At times people have gone away on extended vacations and come home to strangers living in their house.

Regardless of the legal issues of removing a squatter, there is the challenge of cleanup once they are gone.  Cleanup from squatters is very similar to that of a homeless encampment cleanup.  Rarely is there power or water to the property, which means that human waste and garbage have probably accumulated. Usually that leads to rodent and/or insect infestation.

The photo at right is from an actual squatter situation. Although an accumulation of trash of this magnitude isn’t always the case, unfortunately this sight is not uncommon.  And the longer the squatter has been present, the worse things are.

Problems run the gamut – from clogged toilets and sinks to broken windows and other property damage. Often there’s grafitti. But it’s safe to assume that whatever else may be present, there are biohazards and health threats that must be professionally cleaned up.

It’s not uncommon for there to be an accumulation of drug paraphernalia like used needles and syringes. And there are other things to be dealt with as well.  For example, is there carpeting in the property? If so, a simple cleaning is rarely adequate.  Since you have no idea what types of pathogens or other biohazards that carpeting may contain, it should be removed and disposed of safely.  The underlying floor must be decontaminated since liquids leach through carpeting and soak into the floor beneath.

Some hazards and cleanup problems are very obvious. In the photo above, it’s clear that the first thing that needs to happen is to haul out all the trash and dispose of it properly.  But that trash could contain a whole host of invisible biohazards. Or once you remove the pile you may likely find rodent feces, maggots, and other health threats. Since you don’t know exactly what has gone on in this property, assume the worst and let a biohazard cleanup company take it from there.

Just as is the case with cleanup of a homeless area, squatter cleanup is best handled by trained professionals like our biohazard cleanup company We work together with Pacific Northwest Hoarding to offer professional, effective, and discreet cleanup from squatters in the Seattle area. We also handle damage restoration. If you’re faced with cleanup of your property after a squatter, please call us today at (877) 684-9753.  We’re available 24/7, 365 days of the year. We’ll help you get your property restored as safely and quickly as possible.


Cleanup due to homelessness is a hot topic right now.  Cities cross the country are struggling with the issue of homelessness, and here in the Washington state area it’s no different.  In fact, our largest city, Seattle, has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country.  (Seattle, with almost 12,000 counted as homeless in 2017) is third, after New York and Los Angeles.

Many of those who are classified as homeless live in encampments scattered about in highly populated areas.  ‘Tent cities’ often spring up under freeway overpasses and other public spaces like parks. Though there are sanctioned areas, most of these dwellings are illegal, and periodically the city is forced to close it down, clear it up, and clean it up.

The Major Biohazards Associated with Homeless Encampments

Cleanup of a homeless encampment poses substantial risk of exposure to and spreading of biohazards as well as other health dangers. A report issued by the City of Tacoma (part of the Seattle metro area) identified these major threats:

  • Blood-borne pathogens – most commonly hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, but also MRSA (antibiotic-resistant staph infection)
  • Biohazards due to bodily waste (feces, vomit, etc.)
  • Discarded drug paraphernalia (needles and syringes)
  • Rodents (rats can carry the hanta virus, which can result in kidney failure due to febrile hemorrhagic disease)
  • Drug production (meth labs, etc.)

The proliferation of trash that accumulates includes hazards associated with such things as rotting food, dirty diapers, venomous spiders like the black widow and yellow sac, and more.

But it’s not just these large urban homeless camps that require cleanup. Property owners and businesses often must deal with health threats due to small numbers of homeless individuals routinely ‘crashing’ on their property.

The most important thing we want to stress is that cleanup from a homeless dwelling should NOT be undertaken by untrained individuals. Special protective clothing and equipment is required. Whether a homeless dwelling area is a large under-freeway encampment or a couple of tents behind a store, cleanup should be done by professionals who are trained in and have the equipment to deal with the toxic matters that may be present.  It is critical to be aware of potential hazards, because untrained individuals may not even recognize threats posed.

  • Debris needs to be removed safely
  • Debris needs to be disposed of safely
  • The area needs to be decontaminated and restored

Our crews are trained in the abatement of biohazards and safe cleanup of homeless encampments.  For assistance in the Seattle area, call us at (877) 684-9753.  We are available 24/7.  (For other areas, call this number and ask about our availability.)



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