Willow Glen residents apprehensive on homeless encampment relocation

Some residents in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose are raising concerns over a proposal to relocate a sanctioned homeless encampment. Hope Village houses more than a dozen homeless people in tents and is currently located on Ruff Drive near the airport.

County leaders want to move it to Lelong and Willow Streets in Willow Glen.

The deadline to move campers is fast approaching on March 30. Some residents said they weren't given much notice or say that that this land was being considered.

With new fencing and concrete slabs, county and city leaders said a vacant lot owned by the Water District off Highway 87 in San Jose is move-in ready for “Hope Village.” It’s the city's first sanctioned village for the homeless population.

Ron Haulman and other residents live near the proposed site at the corner of Lelong and Willow Streets in Willow Glen and oppose the county's proposal.

“They have not done anything about the extensive homeless population that's camping out in the area,” said Haulman.

“There are families and businesses here and I don't want it,” said Willow Glen Resident Kathleen Almoslino. “I’m sorry I feel for these people but the city needs to do a better job.”

The current set up is 17 people live in tents in an enclosed, fenced off space on Ruff Drive, with showers, rest rooms, and a dining area. Visitors ring a doorbell to be allowed in. Campers must now move since the site is too close to the airport and not safe for residential use according to the FAA.

“I think there are many solutions to homelessness,” said San Jose Councilwoman Dev Davis “We have to explore all of them.”

The proposed new location sits in council woman Dev Davis’s district. She lives six blocks away and supports the move.

“I completely understand the concerns and fears,” said Davis. “We know just like the housed population, the unhoused population contains some unsavory characters.”

She said, Hope Village is different with many campers who fell on hard times. 59-year-old Willy Gonzales is one of them. He lost his job after hurting his shoulder. He hopes Willow Glen residents will give Hope Village a chance.

“Everybody here in Silicon Valley,” said Gonzales. “Being the rents are so high you are only a paycheck away from being where I am, so have a little mercy for some people.”

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, San Jose City Council and Santa Clara County Water District still need to approve the move by March 30. It’s unclear what will happen to the homeless individuals if it's not approved by then. Two community meetings are set for next Monday and Wednesday.