San Jose residents get heated over option to move homeless encampment

Lauren Martinez Image
Thursday, April 18, 2024
SJ residents get heated over option to move homeless encampment
Finding solutions for a San Jose homeless encampment brought dozens of residents out to a community forum.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Finding solutions for a San Jose homeless encampment brought dozens of residents out to a community forum.

On Wednesday Mayor Matt Mahan and Councilmembers Omar Torres and Dev Davis held a town hall on what to do about the homeless encampment off Willow Street and Lelong.

The Mayor brought up two options, the first to continue what he called the status quo approach and increase cleanup and some enforcement but the encampment would remain as is. He emphasized in order to enforce the law with encampments people need a place to go.

"Or we can take Valley Water's offer and take that paved area," Mahan said.

The second option garnered some heated reactions.

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"We can take the area across the street that's Valley Water land that is paved we can do a safe sleeping site with some rules with tents in a row with trash pickup, with some amount of security and case management," Mahan said.

Some residents were upset the safe sleeping site is similar to an idea Council Member Davis proposed years ago.

"I don't see how moving that same group across the way and suddenly managing them is suddenly going to change those entire people or change the environment," one public speaker said.

San Jose resident Kathleen Almoslino was in line to speak to represent her Willow Glen neighborhood.

"I think our city needs to sue the county," Almoslino said. "I think the county needs to do their job and as someone said earlier find some unincorporated property somewhere else - not smack dab in the middle of neighborhoods."

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Other residents were supportive of the interim housing site.

Bill Rankin has lived near the Willow Street and Lelong intersection for 22 years.

"For one thing it's a temporary location and these people need to go someplace it's a very human problem we're having. So this isn't the best solution, but it is a move in the right direction," Rankin said.

Councilmember Davis said the site is the first step for housing.

"So safety, sanitation, and services I said this to you guys five years ago, is what we can provide to get people to the bottom run on the ladder to get on that path to permanent housing," Davis said.

The mayor says this open conversation to find a solution will continue.

"As the state starts fining us and forcing us to move people away from the waterways I'm going to need your help - we're going to need your help to find places for them to go," Mahan said.

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