San Jose begins final phase of clearing encampment near Columbus Park

San Jose is cleaning up an encampment on a property owned by the  San Jose International Airport. Crews picked up garbage and removed abandoned cars from the site. After being told it was unsafe to have people living in Guadalupe Gardens. 

The area is near the San Jose Airport and in the last two years, has become home to a few hundred people.  

Multiple people living at the site or close by, told KTVU they were feeling uneasy and anxious about leaving, but the City says it has the resources and services to help people. 

"It was not suitable for habitation and habitation access was not going to be permitted in that area. So the FAA has directed the City of San Jose to make sure that area is cleared," said Jeffery Scott, San Jose Housing Dept.    

Scott says they began clearing the area in September of last year. On Thursday, some people moved out of Guadalupe Gardens onto city property, in Columbus Park as the cleanup was underway.  

"Some of us aren’t as needy as others but they could do a little more than what they’re doing. Providing us with resources helping us out with trash bags and stuff like that to help keep the area clean," said C.O., who's been living in Guadalupe Gardens for over a year.  

"Well I hope everybody gets somewhere because if they don’t, there’s going to be a lot lonely people, a lot of sad people, hurting for living and just wanting to die," said Joseph Skurja, who says he recently started living near Columbus Park.  

A woman named Katie, also known as the Food Fairy, partners with Lighthouse Ministry to distribute food to those who are still unhoused. 

"Food insecurity is a big deal. I suffered from it as a child and just wanted to give back," Katie said.   

Scott says so far, they’ve relocated 150 people from Guadalupe Gardens and there are about 90 people still living in the encampment. The city is working with groups like HomeFirst to provide shelter, temporary housing or a permanent home.  

"We want to make sure that everybody there understands that we care about them, we’re trying to help them. We have shelters and housing options available for them. We also have a number of resources, as I said, including mental health referrals and other types of referrals, to not only get people the assistance that need to get housed but to remain housed," Scott said.   

On Tuesday California lawmakers finalized Newsom’s mental healthcare plan for those who’re unhoused. Scott says San Jose welcomes getting additional mental healthcare services for the people who need it.