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Homeless Encampments
To Report a Homeless Encampment, contact the Homeless Outreach and Engagement Hotline at 408-510-7600 or email HomeFirst Outreach ().

Recent News Articles on Homeless Encampments

 Date Source Subject
11/29/14  Mercury News The Jungle: San Jose's Largest Homeless Encampment Scheduled to Close on Thursday
07/01/13  Mercury News  'Point-in-Time' Census Finds More Homeless Are Living in Santa Clara County
06/26/13  Mercury News   San Jose: More Park Rangers Will Help Curb Creekside Homeless Encampments
 06/01/13 Mercury News  Inside San Jose's Largest Homeless Encampment, The Jungle
04/23/13  CBS  Crews Clear Another Homeless Encampment in San Jose
03/12/13  Mercury News   San Jose's Rising Homeless Numbers Prompt " Tough Love" Plan
 03/11/13  Mercury News  San Jose, Santa Clara County Must Act on Crisis of Homelessness: Mercury News Editorial
02/28/13  Mercury News   San Jose Plans Cleanups of Homeless Encampments That's Grown to 100 Residents
 02/21/13  Mercury News  Large Homeless Tent Springs Up Near Downtown San Jose
02/21/13  Mercury News   Homeless Encampment Mushrooms in San Jose Field
02/20/13  Mercury News   Herold: San Jose Has Modern Version of Depression-Era Encampments
 01/28/13  Mercury News  Counting the Homeless: Outreach Workers on Front Lines of Encampment Problem
 10/30/12  Mercury News  San Jose City Council: Homeless Problem is Costly
09/14/12  Mercury News  Many of San Jose Homeless Return to Camp After Clean Ups
 07/20/12 Mercury News   San Jose Tries to Clean Up Homeless Encampments While Offering Support to Homeless

Homeless Encampment Response

For many years, in partnership with the Santa Clara County Water District (District), the City has cleaned up areas along the City’s major waterways to reduce the accumulation of trash and its associated impact on the environment.  While not the only contributing factor, the presence of homeless people and encampments has made maintaining the waterways more challenging.   

Past efforts to respond to homeless encampments have focused on removing trash.  In 2011, the City and District conducted cleanups of 46 encampments.  The total number of cleanups was118, as some encampments were cleaned multiple times.  While this approach was successful in removing substantial amounts of trash and debris from the City's waterways and surrounding areas, we found that displaced residents moved to a new location or waited a short period of time before moving back to the cleaned up camp.  Despite these efforts, encampments have continued to grow.

In March of 2012, the City temporarily suspended encampment cleanups to evaluate its approach given the continuing concerns and to ensure compliance with federal and State laws.  In June, the City and Water District embarked on a new effort-- called the Phase 1 Effort-- to respond to encampments.

Results of Phase 1 Effort

The Phase One Effort had several objectives:  (1) providing outreach to the homeless in advance of cleanups to inform them about housing and service options and to encourage them to accept them; (2) to offer housing options; (3) to store personal belongings of displaced residents; and (4) to take actions to deter re-encampment.

Phase One included the clean up of five encampments.  City funding for the effort totaled $632,000, with the majority of funds being housing funds that provided housing for up to 40 encampment residents.

There were a number of successes realized--
  • Nearly 30 homeless individuals moved out of the four encampments and into motels or shelter where they had access to case management services while waiting to move into housing.
  • Approximately 60 tons of trash was removed.
  • Encampment residents, encouraged by outreach workers, helped with the cleanup by removing belongings and bagging trash in advance.
  • Procedures surrounding the collection and storage of valuables were established, and data was collected to evaluate staff time required and space needs.

Additionally, there were a number of challenges identified--
  • Preventing re-encampment is on of the largest challenges.
  • The new cleanup protocols require additional staffing and slowed down the productivity of the cleanups, which will reduce the number of encampments that can be completed with current resources.
  • It will take significant investment to respond to the encampments, particularly to provide housing options for residents.
  • Without ongoing enforcement of the encampments, they become more established and harder to eliminate.
  • Residents don't always accept the services offered, though increased outreach did help increase the number who did.