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Rats, needles and other piles of Skid Row health violations

Photo by NoHoDamon via Flickr Creative Commons

L.A. County public health officials have found a variety of health code violations on the streets of Skid Row.

Hazardous and unhygienic conditions, including the presence of hypodermic needles, rats' nests and piles of human excrement were detailed in a May 21 report to the city attorney's office.

In April, the health department began an extensive inspection of the 10-block area of downtown Los Angeles -- the country's densest population of homeless individuals -- at the request of the city attorney's office.

Following last year's ruling prohibiting the confiscation and destruction of property from Skid Row's homeless, crime and health concerns in the area have been on the rise. 

"We're regressing," Central Division Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Horace Frank told Blogdowntown in February. "The environment allows it."

The city says sanitation workers have had trouble cleaning up because it's been unclear what is personal property and what is trash. Jane Usher, special assistant city attorney, said the conditions had reached "a crisis point." 

With people and animals living in tents and on sidewalks, and streets littered with trash, the risk of communicable disease is high, the report found.

The city is required to correct the violations this week.


Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner