Rats, Roaches, and Bedbugs in Los Angeles Homeless Shelters may be Reasons why many Shelter Beds are Often Empty at Night
An investigation by KPCC found reports of bedbugs, foul odors, harassment, poor lighting, rats, lax care in medical wards and even a “chicken incubator” in a room where homeless people were sleeping. The investigation revealed these safety and sanitation problems in shelters around the Los Angeles County. The report was conducted using public documents such as monitoring reports from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), health department inspections, coroner reports, surveys from the Department of Mental Health, and police reports. LAHSA funded shelters had a 78 percent utilization rate last year, which is well below the 90 percent required in their contracts. According to KPCC, negative monitoring reports, health citations and grievance complaints rarely result in a shelter being shut down.
A 2017 public health inspection of The House of Hope, a boarding home in Jefferson Park, found 17 health code violations, including evidence of rats, roaches, suspected mold and issues with waste storage and disposal. There are about 16,600 shelter beds in Los Angeles County and most of them are run by private nonprofit and faith organizations. Several of these organizations have contracts with federal, local, and state government agencies that pay for beds for mental health clients, veterans, and other populations they serve. Another issue that several homeless people told KPCC about was that they were victims of harassment, theft, and even assault by other clients in shelters. Apparently, the staff is either indifferent to or untrained to handle the conflict. Hopefully all of these issues are able to be addressed and fixed so that the shelter beds are utilized better than they have been.