SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A new tent village for homeless people sprang up over the weekend in San Jose. It’s being called the first organized homeless encampment in the city. Hope Village sits at Ruff Drive and Hedding, north of downtown. On Monday, the homeless campers were given a 72-hour notice, since they didn’t have permission to be there.
The nonprofit San Jose Hope Village raised $10,000 in private donations and built it, complete with a portable toilet, security fencing and garbage service.
“This is an alternative that we can afford that makes sense that doesn't bother anybody and offers a much better quality of life,” said Peter Miron-Conk of San Jose Hope Village.
Charles Nelson is among the first to move in. Homeless since 2013, Nelson said just five days ago, the 63-year-old was living by a creek near the San Jose Municipal Golf Course.
“I love it,” said Nelson. “It's great. Compared to where we came from, it's a thousand percent better.”
It sits next to the State's Employment Development Department building. Technically, the village is in their overflow parking lot. CHP is now issuing a 72-hour notice to the leave the premises or they'll be forcibly removed and property will be taken.
“It doesn't matter if it's nice or orderly and clean, it's still breaking the law,” said CHP Officer Ross Lee.
“We have to start somewhere and people have been talking about encampments and trying to do something more for the homeless for years,” said Miron-Conk.
The nonprofit said it's working with State Senator Jim Beall. Beall’s office told KTVU, the property is under a flight pattern, by Mineta San Jose Airport, under federal regulations and not zoned for residential use.
San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez toured the village Monday and said he’s open to the idea.
“The city has been dancing around on how to solve the issue of homelessness for many years,” said Jimenez. “I would much rather have folks be sheltered with a roof and four walls. I also recognize we aren't going to have the housing necessary to put all these people into supportive housing for many years.”