This San Jose Neighborhood Is Literally Constructing a Wall to Keep Out the Homeless
Crews from the California Department of Transportation are building a wall in a San Jose neighborhood to close off a homeless encampment.
The encampment is located under Interstate 280, close to many residences. While there is already a chain-link fence in place, CBS San Francisco reports that homeless people use holes in the fence to move in and out. According to reports from Mercury News, Caltrans is building a stronger 8-foot-tall barrier with smaller holes, making it more difficult to climb and cut through. Costs of the new fence are estimated around $290,000.
The wall's erection comes after residents complained about the homeless encampment, with many calling it a blight on their neighborhood. Tents and makeshift residences began springing up under I-280 after the closure of the "Jungle," which resulted in the displacement of 200-300 homeless people in December 2014.
Several local advocates have criticized the fortified fence, comparing it to Trump's proposed construction along the Mexican border.
"I think of Trump, and I think how horrible it is that they would keep people out," Jamie Foberg, founder of In Their Shoes homeless advocacy, told CBS News. "It really does make me sad."
Pastor Scott Wagers of CHAM Ministries, an organization dedicated to addressing Silicon Valley’s homelessness problem, told Mercury News that the "Wall," as some are calling it, will only force the homeless people to set up camp elsewhere.
"Money should be spent on larger solutions—not just keeping people out," Wagers said. "It’s building up the level of absurdity."
San Jose and the surrounding county have the highest rates of homelessness in the country, according to the annual homelessness assessment report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2015, there were a total of 4,063 homeless people in San Jose alone, 69 percent of whom were unsheltered.
A primary factor driving the area’s high homelessness rates has been the rise of the tech industry in nearby Silicon Valley. Since San Francisco welcomed titans like Google, Apple and Facebook, the influx of well-off entrepreneurs and tech workers has caused rents to skyrocket to an average monthly price of $2,128 in Santa Clara County, the highest in California.
"Ever since the Jungle [closed], the solution has been abatement," Wagers told Mercury News. "That’s a primitive solution. This is a sophisticated, cutting-edge, high-tech city and that’s the best solution out there? To build a wall?"