San Jose has cleared 224 homeless camps since January this year, with more than 75% of those relocations taking place in Districts 3 and 7, city data shows.
City officials said a sweep could mean booting a person from their campsite – or clearing a huge area with multiple people.
Lawyers who have stood up for the city and its partners for a long time stop sweeping homeless sites During the pandemic, the numbers are sobering.
“This is incredible,” Gail Osmer, a longtime homeless attorney, told San José Spotlight. “I’m just shocked. Little did I know they did. It’s very worrying. “
The city conducted 108 sweeps in District 3 between January and November, data shared with San José Spotlight shows. That’s almost half of all moves in the whole city.
“District 3 has more camps than any other ward, so it’s not surprising that we have more reductions than other counties,” Councilor Raul Peralez told San José Spotlight.
The data also shows that the city in District 3 conducted 31 in September and another 25 in October.
“Most of these are in the Spring and Taylor Street area,” Daniel Lazo, a spokesman for Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services, told San Jose Spotlight, referring to a large camp site with around 150 residents near Columbus Park.
Peralez said the clearance is only a short-term solution.
“My office has consistently taken the lead on initiatives to prevent homelessness and support our unhodged community members,” he said. “District 3 was also one of the first districts to set up a secure car park that allows homeless families and people living in cars and RVs to park overnight in safe places.”
In District 7, also with a large number of uninhabited residents, 61 sweeps were carried out over the same period, data shows. Councilor Maya Esparza did not respond to a query about anti-pollution measures in the district.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Shaunn Cartwright, a local homeless attorney and founder of the Unhoused Response Group, told San Jose Spotlight. “We have a councilor who consistently votes against unhodged people and has shown hostility towards unhodged people.”
In contrast, District 1 had no sweeps in 2021. All other districts removed 10 or fewer locations.
Don’t solve the problem
About 25% of all warehouse moves are to give way, such as on sidewalks, Lazo said. The department began cleaning up and clearing stores earlier this year.
Reductions have also been made to improve public safety and fire safety or to clear abandoned warehouses and warehouses near schools, Lazo added. San Jose implements a 50 m long “buffer zone” around schools In April.
Reductions or sweeps are costly for the city and destructive to the uninhabited populationCity officials and local lawyers said. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that San Jose spent $ 4.85 million on clearing warehouses in 2019. Many residents lose all of their belongings during these evictions and often move around the corner or return after the dismantling teams leave.
“It doesn’t really solve the problem,” said Councilor David Cohen, who called for a reduction as a last resort in dealing with uninhabited camps. “We don’t want to invest so much money in renovations that we have fewer resources to offer residential solutions. That is a great challenge for cities. “
San Jose, like other cities in the region, stopped removing camps at the start of the pandemic amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19 – with a few exceptions. But as the pandemic brought more people to the streets, the camps grew in size and visibility. Last fall, the city started dismantling homeless camps again regularly and voted for it at the beginning of the year make it a priority.
Proponents said the raids will only cause more trauma and undermine confidence among unhoused residents and officials.
“We told them this was going on for years and nobody was listening,” Cartwright said.
San Jose estimates that there are currently 220 warehouses across the city.
The city continues to struggle in provide enough living space and shelter for those who sleep on the street. Local officials are exploring various ways to regain strength Intermediate apartmentsincluding Conversion of hotels and motels and build Prefabricated building communities on public property.
from Santa Clara County Biennial homelessness census in 2019 San Jose has estimated that there were 6,100 homeless residents – a number of local supporters who suspect the pandemic has grown.
“The homelessness problem is a housing problem,” Sandy Perry, president of the Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County, told San Jose Spotlight. “The city failed miserably. As long as they sweep people and force people out under threat of arrest, that’s wrong. “
“They talk about it: ‘We build this and we build this.’ We’re not even building at a pace to keep up with our death rate, ”said Cartwright. “Our death rate will be well over 200 people this year and we’re not even building 200 residential units.”