SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The jungle was one of the biggest homeless camps in the entire country.
San Jose cleaned it up, but it’s still a problem.
Now, it’s become the backdrop for a big campaign push to get voters to approve Measure A.
A news conference Wednesday by Measure A supporters was held at the site of the old jungle, just steps away from piles of rubbish and human waste. There are still encampments popping up every day, nearly two years after the city shut it down.
Elected officials from all over the South Bay gathered there to announce the results of a new poll that says 69 percent of likely voters would vote “Yes” on Measure A. The poll was funded by the campaign itself.
If it passes, Measure A would build more affordable housing by imposing a parcel tax, and raise nearly $1 billion.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez explained what Measure A is going to cost taxpayers out of pocket. She said, “So the Measure is $12.66 per $100,000 of assessed value. Essentially that means about $60 a year for each of us.”
Back in 2014, the jungle was one of the largest encampments in the country with around 300 people living in squalid conditions, before the city came in and cleaned it up.
However, many of those homeless individuals scattered into neighborhoods, along freeways, strip mall parking lots, into RVs at city parks, even on the front porch of someone’s home.
Eva Marie Martinez, who used to live in the jungle, said she just happened to stumble into the press conference held in San Jose on Wednesday about Measure A.
She told city leaders she has a housing voucher, but there’s just nowhere to go, so she sleeps on the street.
Martinez said, “It’s very difficult because I go to the housing authorities and they have the listing every Thursday and the 1-bedrooms, and there’s only 4 or 5 on the listings for 1-bedrooms. And they’re all taken when I call.”
Corporations and the business community had initially opposed Measure A, but after public pressure, backed off, and have since taken a neutral position.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said, “We’re spending a lot of money, half a billion dollars a year in this county to manage homelessness. Rather than spending that money to end homelessness…We have the opportunity now to end this.”
Measure A requires a two-thirds majority to pass.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said, “We have been struggling with this for decades. For decades. This is our best opportunity to solve the problem.”
Chavez said there’s no Plan B, only Measure A.