There are many reasons why homeless people choose to live on the streets rather than to sleep in homeless shelters.
A KQED article provided very clear examples of why the homeless – or anyone for that matter – would sleep anywhere but a homeless shelter.
A 2017 public health inspection of one shelter in LA, found 17 health code violations, including evidence of rats, roaches, suspected mold, and issues with waste storage and disposal.
In a residential hotel in downtown L.A., a Department of Mental Health client reported bathrooms that were “trashed daily” with toilets that “don’t flush.”
Complaints of homeless people getting sick in shelters with body lice, head lice, and other communicable diseases like MRSA, an infection that is resistant to treatment with many antibiotics.
“Mold in the bathrooms, blood on the walls, just a variety of issues that are really unacceptable,” said Eve Garrow who works on homeless issues for the American Civil Liberties Union. “People with disabilities may try to use shelters and very quickly decide they’re unable to manage their mental health conditions in those shelter spaces.”
What appears to be a huge problem, is there’s a lack of accountability of meeting quality and service benchmarks. There’s no single public department in charge of proactively making sure shelters are clean, safe places to stay. Only when enough complaints are filed, an inspection usually is performed.