Professor Leslie Rice
11 April 2019
Homelessness in San Jose City
San Jose is the capital of Silicon Valley and the home to many of the world's largest high-tech corporations such as Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. In recent years, the city’s robust economy has grown sharply and created thousands of well-paid jobs, which has made San Jose become one of the richest cities in the nation. San Jose residents and government have been extremely proud of this phenomenon, but the prouder we were to be the world’s leader of innovation and economic success, the more frustrated we were about the city’s homeless problems. We have the nation’s largest homeless camp, named The Jungle, a home of more than 350 homeless people (Cambell et al). Although the city has taken huge resources and efforts to address the problem, many experts still believed that the city’s homelessness has become worse and complex. Therefore, it is crucial for us to look at the current situation of the city’s homelessness, analyze problems, and come up with the possible solutions.
In recent years, the homeless population and unsheltered homeless individuals in the city have increased rapidly. According to San Jose city Census &Survey, within 2015-2017 the homeless population increased by nearly 300 individuals, adding up to 4,350 homeless people which accounted for 59% of Santa Clara County’s total homeless population. In 2017, the city’s unsheltered homeless people took up 74% of the city’s homelessness population, which was the highest rate of unsheltered homeless population among the nation’s cities. In the same period, sheltered homeless population went down to 134 individuals while unsheltered individuals went up by 421 counts, increased by nearly 4% within two years 2015-2017. The survey also pointed out those 643 individuals are living in encampments. (Connery et al). It was evident that there were significantly increased homeless individuals in the city, and most of them have lived in street, abandoned buildings, car and vans, and encampment areas
In addition to increase in homeless population and unsheltered homeless individuals, there was a high proportion of children, youth, and mid adults in the city’s homeless population. In 2017, children and transition-age youth still yielded at high percent, about 22% the city homeless population while mid adults account at 70% (Connery et al). Nearly 4,300 students and 1 professor at San Jose State University experienced homelessness in the same year. They reported living in their cars, university library and encampments near churches (Favro).
The city’s homeless communities have caused public health risks in the city. In 2014, San Jose city removed 2,011 cubic yards of debris from homeless encampments along creeks and rivers in Santa Clara County (Rodgers and Newman). In the same year, the city spent two weeks to clean up the Jungle Encampment and removed 2,850 gallons of human waste, 1,200 needles, ...