Dawn on June 7th at Murray Hill Park on Bartlett Street with a wet drizzle of damp grass and mud. In the wooded area behind the nearby Bartlett Arms and Overlook Apartments, residents of a homeless camp gathered their belongings to move after receiving an eviction notice from the Asheville Police Department the day before.
people say they lived there for about a year Sarah Ramosto whom Express She talked as she packed her tent. “Right now, 25 to 30 of hers have lost their homes,” she said. “I don’t understand why we can’t stay. We don’t bother anyone.”
Near the camp was a nondescript white van and two trash cans. These belonged to Bio-One, a company that specializes in crime scene, hoarding and suicide cleanup, which the city of Asheville has contracted eight times to clean up homeless camps.
The City of Asheville employs Bio-One for its ability to remove biohazardous materials such as needle dust and human waste from camps. Matt Greggwho co-owns an Asheville-based company with his wife, Christa.
A contract to clean up Murray Hill, approved by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, was signed on May 5 for up to $22,800. Estimated costs included up to $22,000 for 7-10 days of work, including personal protective equipment and chemicals. Trash rentals up to $3,150. Skid steer loader and grapple bucket rental $2,650. Waste disposal costs listed as “TBD” based on volume.
Both the city’s parks and recreation and sanitation departments have contracts with Bio-One for cleanups that vary in scope, Greg said. “It was the biggest one in the world,” he said. (In an email dated July 21st, Kim Miller, a city spokesperson wrote: Although an effective daily practice, this did not meet the needs created by growing community demands for the removal of hazardous materials found on public property. ”)
Bio-One lists cleaning homeless camps as one of its services, but that job only makes up 5% to 10% of the company’s business, said Fletcher, who owns the Bio-One franchise in Colorado. Resident Greg says: In addition to eight cleanups on government property in Asheville, the company has cleaned several former encampments on private land in the city. Some of these jobs are relatively minor but include cleaning up needle litter, he explains.
40% of Bio-One’s work is cleaning homes for people dealing with hoarding and excess clutter. Another 40% consist of trauma or crime scenes with blood purification. These jobs are usually suicides, but the company also deals with homicides, attempted murders, accidents and unattended deaths.
According to Greg, his staff are trained to be “non-judgmental” and strive to be sensitive. “You don’t necessarily know what’s going on in someone’s life,” he says. Nearly all of his eight staff members are trained in mental health first aid for situations they might encounter at work, Greg continues.
“The motto for everything is ‘help first, business second,'” explains Greg. “Whether it’s crime and trauma scenes, homeless camps, hoarding, [situation], we try to treat people with care and compassion. ”
when Express Upon arrival at the Murray Hill Park camp, both the packing resident and the Bio-One staff had an orange sharps container containing used needles. Harm reduction experts recommend disposing of syringes in airtight containers to discourage reuse and prevent the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases.
Bio-One employees are trained on bloodborne pathogen standards by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Gregg said. “Sometimes you have the advantage of seeing bright orange caps. [of needles] Unfortunately, sometimes that is not the case. He notes that finding sharps containers, like in Murray Hill Park, is usually the “exception.”
Used needles are just one potential biological risk, and Gregg says his staff wear full-body biohazard suits and eye protection. “Needles-related health hazards tend to be number one. [concern]but usually we’ll find buckets or bottles or different things — urine, feces, things like that,” he says.
Some campsites have designated spaces that used to be used as toilet areas, Greg continues. is on the ground, says Greg, “Mother Nature tends to have the ability to take care of itself.” However, Bio-One removes the remaining feces and sprays the ground with its own chemicals, specifically a tuberculosis disinfectant. (Homeless people and people who inject drugs are both high-risk groups for tuberculosis, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Notice of going
Several city ordinances in Asheville restrict trespassing and camping on public property. At the January 11 Asheville City Council meeting, an APD representative shared that the department has updated her 2014 Standard Operating Procedures (avl.mx/bt8) for those experiencing homelessness. The agency now gives camp people 24 hours notice to evict him, a reduction from his previous seven-day notice.
When asked about the timing of the Murray Hill Park clearing, an APD spokesperson said: Bill Davis I have referred this policy and any additional questions to the Department of Parks and Recreation and Sanitation.
When asked what caused Murray Hill Park’s eviction notice, Miller, a city spokesperson, wrote in a June 8 email: ”
Miller continued, “Over the past few months, we have received several requests from community members to remove the camp. (WNC’s Homeward Bound provides support services to those experiencing homelessness and operates on a Housing First model.)
“Hey, this should be saved”
When Bio-One arrives at a homeless camp, most residents have usually already left with their valuables, Greg says. What’s left behind is usually “garbage, debris, urine, faeces, needles and rotten food,” especially food containers and empty cans, he explains. To his knowledge, Bio-One has not recovered any weapons or illegal drugs from the camp, but those items are turned over to his APD.
Express Multiple attempts to contact those displaced from camp, including Murray Hill Park, were unsuccessful.
Nearly everything collected constitutes solid waste, according to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and the company disposes of the items at the Buncombe County Transit Station in Asheville or the Buncombe County Landfill in Alexander. There were 100 tires left at the Hill Park camp, which were segregated from landfills for recycling.
“You don’t want to let go of something that someone really wants to keep,” Greg continues. “My main focus is on making the space safe, or whatever the client’s needs are. When I need to clear things up, when I want a space free of all the debris.”
His team cares about belongings of real or perceived value, like personal papers, he says.
“We don’t start ripping things right away,” Greg explains. “If someone’s there, we’re having a conversation. There were many times when someone said, ‘Hey, this needs to be saved,’ but we put things aside.”