Residents concerned over homeless encampment near Santana Row
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Some residents in West San Jose are calling attention to a homeless encampment, not too far from Santana Row. The city has abated the encampment several times in the past, but homeless individuals return.
At the intersection of Winchester Boulevard and Moorpark Avenue in San Jose is a homeless encampment. It is less than a mile away from Santana Row and Winchester Mystery House.
"It may be small, but it's very powerful what they are doing to our neighborhood," said Alyona Spok of the Lynhaven Neighborhood Association.
Residents have a long list of complaints.
"A couple of times when I was driving with my daughter in this corner we got harassed," said Spok.
"The blight, getting accosted, stolen bikes, drug use, we just saw someone roam in out of here," said Vince Navarra of the Hamman Park Neighborhood Association. "He could barely walk, he was roaming in and out of traffic."
It is activity that makes residents nervous and they’ve documented police at the site. They estimate 20 to 30 homeless people are in and out and feel their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
"They cannot stay on this corner, it is not safe for us as neighbors over here or for them," said Spok.
"San Jose needs to step up help us clear this out offer the resources to these people," said Navarra.
"I know and feel their frustration, I would be just as frustrated," said San Jose Vice Mayor Chappie Jones.
The encampment falls in San Jose Vice Mayor Chappie Jones’ district. It is city owned property next to the freeway which Caltrans oversees.
"When COVID hit, we had a moratorium on abatements, so we weren’t able to relocate those individuals," said Jones.
Right now, the city is only clearing encampments near schools, or if it’s blocking a sidewalk. Jones said the city has reached out to the homeless individuals at the site, offered services and housing, done cleanups, and provided them with trash bags.
He said abatements are a short-term fix, the homeless end up moving right back in. Where you relocate them is an issue Bay Area wide.
"Most residents are in favor of housing for the homeless, they are just not in favor of housing the homeless in their backyard," said Jones.
Homeless housing projects are often met with pushback and affordable housing is limited. Jones said removing this encampment and others will take time.
"It’s an intractable problem that’s going to take a lot of resources, a lot of effort and a lot of community engagement to solve," said Jones.
Jones said he checked in with police about the calls for service in the area. He said it is low. He advises residents to report issues directly to police, not just on Nextdoor.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.