As of January 2020, an estimated 14,655 people experienced homelessness in the state of Oregon and 22,923 people in the state of Washington, and this number is expected to be much higher due to the pandemic. As homelessness starts to move from downtown city areas to urban and even suburban communities questions have arisen as to what kind of impact homeowners will experience from this recent shift and influx.
Why Has Homelessness Increased In The Pacific Northwest
There are a few reasons why homelessness occurs but recently the numbers have grown due to an increase in housing costs without comparable wage growth. In addition, the economic impact of the pandemic contributed to many people losing their jobs leaving them unable to afford their current housing situation.
Factor in that many homeless people suffer from mental illness and addiction which are often neglected due to their inability to afford medical care. Though some may choose to not address these issues, the underlying theme of why the Pacific Northwest is seeing an increase in homelessness is due to people’s inability to afford basic aspects of living.
How Do The Homeless Impact Their Surroundings
Both the homeless and those within the proximity of homeless encampments are impacted when it comes to homelessness. Those who are experiencing homelessness often have to endure severe weather changes without proper shelter. Water contamination, soil contamination, air and noise pollution, crime and even rodent infestations are all things that the homeless have to endure.
Understanding what the homeless go through can then give you a sense of how nearby communities can be impacted. Crime may increase and homeowners may begin to notice rat and mice activity due to trash accumulation within homeless camps. Once rodents are drawn in it’s hard to get rid of them as they populate quickly and will stick around until their food and water sources are no longer available.
Does Homelessness Contribute To Rat Problems In Nearby Homes
We’ve written about the situation with the Portland rat problem and the effect that the homeless problem is having on it. Depending on the proximity of homeless camps and how many rodents populate the area will play a factor in whether or not rodents start to become a problem for nearby homeowners. That being said, it doesn’t take long for rodents to impact a neighborhood.
Rodents care about three things; water, food, and shelter and they are not picky when it comes to either of these. Rats and mice will eat just about anything and they can live in very poor conditions. Their main purpose is to scavenge and reproduce which is why they will always make food and water a priority and look for places where they can nest and produce young. Unfortunately for humans, rodents reproduce at a very fast rate which is why a few rodents can quickly become an infestation.
Homeless camps provide ideal environments for rodents because they have everything in one vicinity that they can take back to their nesting grounds. Since rodents typically inhabit highly populated areas like cities, it makes sense that both rodents and the homeless would live amongst each other. Even urban dwellings around the downtown city area find themselves having to deal with rodents simply because of close proximity to the city, let alone when homeless camps pop up near their neighborhoods drawing rats’ attention.
In order to get rid of rats and/or prevent them from becoming a problem, you have to take away the very things they care about which means not leaving food and trash accessible to them. For the homeless, this can be a challenge as one individual may do their part to clean up while everyone else continues to build upon their trash piles. For homeowners, it’s suggested that preventive measures are taken around their property to keep rats and mice away. Keeping trash in secure bins, preventing access into a house by closing off all exterior vents with heavy-duty mesh, and making sure that any holes and/or cracks in the exterior foundation are sealed are just a few preventative measures that can help. If you do see rats, call your local rat control company to ensure that rodents haven’t invaded your home.