Authorities in Utah found self-storage tenants living in at least five units at A-1 Access Storage in South Salt Lake after conducting a raid last month at the standalone facility.
Police and health officials found "a makeshift bedroom with food, clothing and other living accessories" in one unit, according to a search warrant released last week. The raid revealed unsafe and unsanitary living conditions, including human waste being stored in bottles.
The tenants were evicted, although authorities did not know how many people were living in the units.
A-1 Storage manager Christie Andrews said she called police after finding a 3-year-old baby living in one unit. She believes the homeless families had likely been living in the units for up to six months.
"I would kick them out, and then an hour later they were there," she told the Deseret News, adding that it was difficult to detect their presence because they would secretly lock themselves inside the units.
Advocates for Utah's homeless said encountering people living in self-storage units is rare. However, storage-unit rent is significantly lower than apartments or rooms. In Utah, a 10-foot by 10-foot unit rents for about $80 a month.
Cory Milligan, manager of 13th South Self Storage in Salt Lake City, told the newspaper finding an apartment or room is difficult for those with bad credit, and until the economy improves, instances of people living in storage units will probably occur more frequently.