Homeless murders on the rise rise in San Jose, local shelters look for solutions

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The number of murders of homeless people in San Jose has grown to nine this year after a man's body was found in a parking lot off Highway 880 in a home improvement store parking lot.

San Jose police have not been able to find a common link for the nine homeless murders in San Jose and hey have only been able to make an arrest in one of the cases so far.

A passerby came across the body lying next to a parked SUV and called police. The victim suffered visible injuries, but police are not releasing the cause of death, or the man's identity. The parking lot was canvassed for security video but the incident was not recorded.

"We don't have any significant information to provide, or we don't have anything that would lead us to believe that any of them are connected," said Officer Albert Morales of the San Jose police.

This is the city's 38th homicide.

Many at the Boccardo Center, a San Jose shelter operated by the nonprofit agency HomeFirst, were not aware of this latest homeless murder.

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"This place protects them from that," said Joe Conely of the shelter. "I hope there isn't someone going around doing this to people, and if there is I hope you guys catch him quick."

Social service agencies say the homeless are vulnerable, living on the streets with only each other for protection but some strike out on their own.

"How do you keep your belongings safe, let alone your own person safe?" said HomeFirst CEO Andrea Urton. "So being homeless is not just a horribly tragic situation. It's very, very dangerous."

Seven members of an outreach team do contact the homeless on the street every day, providing some snacks and hygiene products and an offer of a shelter bed if they want one. Boccardo Center has room for 250 people.

Albert Florez was homeless for eight and a half years. He now works with a missionary group. He hopes the homeless will head his advice.

"Go to a shelter. Go to a shelter. Get off the streets," Florez said. "Get out of the camps and get yourself in a safe environment."
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