Homeless woman found near San Jose creek believed to have died weeks ago

Homeless advocates in San Jose say a woman was found dead along Coyote Creek, just outside the Tully Library, Tuesday where she had been living. Other people in the encampment say she had been missing and may have been there dead for weeks. 

Advocates say despite efforts by the city and county, people are still dying on the streets of San Jose and now the county is on track to have even more unhoused people die than last year. 

"I was just looking for some rocks and I went down the hill right down there. I saw someone laying down, I thought they were sleeping or whatever," said Tony, who lives in an encampment along Coyote Creek.  

People living near the Creek say she had been missing from the area where she stayed.  

"We received reports that a woman had been found dead here and that she had been dead for about two or three weeks before she was found dead. Of course, that’s terribly sad, but I can’t say that it’s completely uncommon," said Shaunn Cartwright, Founder of Unhoused Response Group based in San Jose.    

The Medical Examiner reports that 51 unhoused people had died in Santa County Clara as of April 1 last year. This year during the same period, 56 unhoused people have died on the streets.   

"To say that we are still surpassing last year’s death total, is a lot, and we need to really look at that," Cartwright said.    

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San Jose City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a partnership between the City and Valley Water. Valley Water will contribute $4.8 million to help evacuate and rehouse 120–200 people living along Coyote Creek. The water district also plans to make flood improvements along the creek. 

"The solution is you have to have permanent supportive housing for people to go to, out of the tiny homes. You can’t just force them into one thing and there’s nothing on the other side of the door. They’re just going to come right back here, and it’s not going to stem the tide of death," Cartwright said.   

The Unhoused Response Group also says many people living on the streets are reluctant to use tiny homes because they can’t keep their belongings with them. The mayor says he’ll continue to advocate to end unmanaged encampments.