|Lauri Burns and some of the young women her Teen Project has helped get off the street and off of drugs.|
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
MRSA Not the Only Public Health Risk for Homeless Campers, Teen Project Founder Says
Lauri Burns, the founder and president of The Teen Project in Venice, reports that antibiotic resistant bacteria are not the only health threat incubating in the homeless encampments along Venice Beach.
Alerted by the recent report by Lava-Mae of six – and possibly nine – apparent MRSA cases at 3rd and Rose, Ms. Burns called the VSA to tell of her own experience with insects carried by the population.
“I took a young homeless woman into my home for one night on an emergency basis and it resulted in an infection of sand mites that took over half a year to eradicate,” She said.
“Both I and my boyfriend received bites for months, which were very painful,” she said.
“We tented the house, we had exterminators back regularly, we washed the bedding every day,” she said, “but it still took a long time to eradicate the mites.”
“I don’t think the public understands that the unsanitary conditions in which these people are forced to live, and in very close proximity, are a very favorable breeding ground for disease and insects.”
“It’s a ticking time bomb and should drive more sanitation measures than we are currently seeing and quicker re-housing where the homeless can get away from these unsanitary conditions and get treated,” Burns said. “The homeless people want a chance at life. They don't want to stay homeless.”
Burns, who was homeless herself as a young woman, notes that eradicating disease and infection is the first priority for her clients at FREEHAB, the free drug treatment facility for homeless young women that she opened in 2014 in Sun Valley. Burns says the facility has hosted 442 women with a 90% success rate at getting them off drugs and keeping them off the street with both drug treatment and vocational training.