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San Jose Struggles To Control Homeless Encampments Along Waterways

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(Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

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SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Several clean-ups of homeless encampments along the Guadalupe River and other San Jose creeks over the summer have done little to discourage illegal camping in the city’s watersheds, prompting the city to re-evaluate how it deals with homelessness, officials said.

Homeless people quickly returned to many of the sites that were cleared in July and August, or established new camps nearby. An estimated 900 homeless live in watershed encampments around San Jose.

“San Jose’s a pretty big city, you know? There’s a lot of other places that people can go,” said Jericho Adams, one of those forced to move who wasted no time coming right back.

KCBS’ Jeffrey Schaub Reports:

The return of so many like Adams after such expense has San Jose re-evaluating its entire approach to the homeless population. A city council session in October will be devoted to studying the issue, said Leslie Corsiglia, the city’s director of housing.

“It needs to be more than just clean-ups. We need to have comprehensive services for those who are living along the creeks,” she said.

Neighbors complain about the encampments, as do water officials concerned about local flood risks and the environment.

“They really cause a lot of pollution,” said Marty Grimes, spokesman for the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

“That trash often ends up flowing down the creek causing water quality issues. It can flow into the Bay,” he said.

Corsiglia said the city was looking at several new sources of funding so that it could take a more multi-faceted approach to breaking up the camps.

“What we found was more successful was when we performed more outreach to the encampment residents prior to the clean-up,” Corsiglia said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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