Homeless in South Bay demand options after exposure death

The death of a homeless man in San Jose whose body was found Monday morning is being attributed to exposure.

It comes one year after the city dismantled an encampment known as "The Jungle," saying it was unsafe and unsanitary.

KTVU found some of the displaced living in another encampment under Highway 87. They are concerned they won't survive when they learned that one of their own died out in the elements.

"This weather is just getting ridiculous; really bad," said homeless woman Delphina Alvarez.

On this cold December night, the homeless are trying to ward of a chill that, according to law enforcement, likely killed a transient whose body was discovered Monday morning.

"How scary. It could have been me. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to be the next one," said the 62-year-old Alvarez.

The man was found just off of Interstate 280 on South First Street. Advocates for the homeless say it appears to be the first exposure death of this season.

Advocates also say the dismantling of the large encampments at “The Jungle” one year ago displaced hundreds of people.

Many are still without housing now.

"We're not bad people. We're not drug addicts, alcoholics. We're just regular people. We want to get back into a house," said Andrea Rodriguez, who is homeless.

She and her husband Brian say they've been sleeping in their car since being forced out of "The Jungle."

On Tuesday night, they spoke at the San Jose City Council meeting to discuss short and long-term solutions.

"This is a crisis. There are over 4000 people on the streets on any given night who need help," said San Jose's Homeless Response Manger Ray Bramson.  

Possible solutions include legalizing encampments and acquiring a hotel. But the city acknowledges long-term solutions are three to five years out.

"We've looked at transitional communities like tiny homes, master leasing hotels converting older buildings into SRO's. We're looking at all options. We're leaving everything on the table," said Bramson.

The homeless say they need help now.

"How many cold nights are there going to be within that time? Rainy nights, wet nights?" asked Brian Rodriguez.

They maintain that legalizing encampments is a quick solution.

"Show that they do care. They're saying that they do care but do something about it," said Alvarez.

She tells KTVU it was safer in "The Jungle" because police would patrol the area. She says she hasn't seen police come around this encampment under Highway 87 in San Jose.