Crews break up homeless camp in Silicon Valley

The JungleYahoo News – by MARTHA MENDOZA

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Police and social-workers on Thursday began clearing away one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments, a cluster of flimsy tents and plywood shelters that once housed more than 200 people in the heart of wealthy Silicon Valley.

Authorities have been trying for years to resolve problems at the camp known as the Jungle, including violence and unsanitary conditions.  

By Thursday morning, about 60 people were left at the muddy, garbage-strewn site where crews started dismantling the crude structures.

Al Palaces, a former truck driver who moved in about eight months ago, was among those ordered out before dawn.

“I just grabbed whatever I could because I don’t want to go to jail,” he said, standing next to an overloaded shopping cart stuffed with muddy plastic bags.

On Monday, people living in the camp were given until Thursday to leave or face arrest for trespassing.

Nancy Ortega sobbed as she watched tractors load garbage into trash trucks. Then a passing motorist shouted at those who had just been evicted.

“People drive by and look at us like we’re circus animals,” she said.

Many people had trouble dragging their belongings out of the camp through ankle-deep mud.

“It’s junk to everyone else. But to us, these are our homes,” said Ortega, who said she had been in and out of jail and struggled with addiction and mental illness.

Animals also roamed the square-mile camp, some of them pets and others wild. Rats could be seen running through the muck.

A few dozen protesters gathered at the site holding signs reading “Homeless people matter” and “Stand with The Jungle.” No arrests were reported.

The encampment stands in stark contrast to the surrounding valley, a region that leads the country in job growth, income and venture capital.

Palaces said he liked the Jungle better than the streets because people would bring food but not bother the residents.

“Even a job wouldn’t give me a house” because housing prices are so high, he said.

With the camp cleared, officials planned to try to find shelter for the night for people connected with social services.

Anyone not linked with social services will still have to leave, San Jose homelessness response manager Ray Bramson said.

Several homeless-assistance groups also stepped in to help.

HomeFirst, the largest provider to homeless people in Santa Clara County, has a shelter nearby with 250 beds, including 27 that are set aside for camp residents. Another 50 beds are open in a nearby cold-weather shelter.

“This feels terrible,” said Jenny Niklaus, the agency’s chief executive officer. “People are up to their calves in the mud dragging their stuff into the street.”

In the past year and a half, San Jose has spent more than $4 million to solve problems at the encampment.

In the last month, one camp resident tried to strangle someone with a cord of wire. Another was nearly beaten to death with a hammer. And state water regulators have been demanding that polluted Coyote Creek, which cuts through the middle of the camp, get cleaned out, Bramson said.

Personal property confiscated Thursday was to be stored for 90 days before being disposed of in March.

The last time officials cleared out the camp was in May 2012, when about 150 people were moved out.

Dismantling the Jungle is a massive job. About 30 contractors in white hazardous-materials suits and hard hats joined other workers in going through the camp and helping people move out. More than two dozen police officers were on hand as workers loaded trash into large trucks.

It will take several days for trash trucks and bulldozers to haul out vast amounts of refuse and human waste. Heavy machinery will be used to fill in excavated areas where people had been living underground.

6 thoughts on “Crews break up homeless camp in Silicon Valley

  1. This is a vicious cycle that just repeats over and over. These people have nothing left, whether they came from middle class neighborhoods, or addiction to alcohol and/or drugs, or mental illness doesn’t matter. They have nothing to lose. You’re going to arrest them? Yeah, and??? When people have nothing left to lose, you can’t really take much from them. Sure, “tent cities” and other thrown together “shelters” may be “unsanitary” and an eye sore to the people who are well off, but while tearing down such places temporarily may clean up a location, it doesn’t solve the underlying problems. Why not stop sending billions to the military industrial complex and foreign countries and try taking care of the citizens here?

  2. the useless eaters that did this need to be removed from this land and those they harmed by this allowed to move into there homes while they are on the street we need to harass them all night and day not allowing them to sleep not allowing anyone to feed them upload it live to the net so all can enjoy watching them suffer hope the redcoats in drag and the commie parasites can sleep well at night knowing they are doing so much to help ppl there days a coming

  3. “People drive by and look at us like we’re circus animals,” she said.”

    Those monkeys will be on the receiving end themselves before long.

  4. …this is so comforting…since I am about to be homeless myself…thanks to a bozo who hated anything to do with the USAF…it will be fun seeing all these ‘progressives’ caring for anyone but the homeless…

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