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KCBS Cover Story Series: Bringing Medical Care To San Jose’s Largest Homeless Encampment

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San Jose's largest homeless encampment, The Jungle (photo courtesy housing1000sv.org)

San Jose’s largest homeless encampment, The Jungle (photo courtesy housing1000sv.org)

MikeColgan20100909_KCBS_0410r Mike Colgan
Mike Colgan, who has worked in Bay Area radio for more than 40 year...
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SAN JOSE (KCBS) — Residents of The Jungle, San Jose’s largest homeless encampment, have recently received on-site medical care after the county moved a mobile clinic to the site.

“It’s important to bring the medicine to where the people are. This population doesn’t have a lot of transportation. A lot of times it’s hard for them to get bus fare to get to clinics,” said Janet Cole, nurse coordinator at the Valley Homeless Healthcare Program, which is part of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Nathan, a Jungle resident, was astonished by the on-site health care services. “It’s amazing,” he said. “A lot of people don’t have access to health care. Some of them are disabled and they can’t get up the hill.”

He said it’s these types of acts that give people hope and when you’re living in The Jungle, that’s about all you have to go on.

It’s called ‘The Jungle’ because it has plenty of vegetation and is dotted with numerous homeless encampments. It resembles a small city within itself and like any city there are neighborhoods.

“Jurassic Park, The Guadalupe, Jumanji. That’s a new one for me. The Jungle actually starts right behind the Berryessa flea market,” said Toy, who gave a tour of the mile and a half stretch of homeless encampment.

KCBS Cover Story Series: Bringing Medicine To San Jose’s Largest Homeless Encampment—The Jungle

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Authorities say The Jungle continues to grow and now has an estimated an estimated population of 1,200. From time to time the city clears out the homeless encampment, but that only works on a temporary basis as the people usually come back to the site.

“We’ve had a cycle of the history of this cycle of cleaning the encampments and people moving back in. We’re trying to break that cycle now,” said Ray Bramson, City of San Jose’s homeless response manager.

Bramson said they’re trying to get the tent dwellers into permanent housing.

“We’re doing a targeted pilot project where we’re looking to rapidly re-house as many encampment residents as possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has been doing cleanups of their own.

“We’ve removed almost 50 tons of debris just in this fiscal year. The amount of debris that gets in the creeks is astronomical,” said spokesman Marty Grimes.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said they’re not ignoring the problem and that they’re focusing on the money they have to provide services for the homeless so they can “take care of their problems and move themselves into housing.”

 

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