SAN JOSE (KPIX-5) — Caltrans is building a taller, stronger wall in San Jose to stop homeless individuals from returning to an encampment.
Caltrans has repeatedly cleaned up the large encampment under I-280, but the homeless keep returning.READ MORE: COVID: Initial Vaccine Booster Availability Met with Low Turnout, Confusion
While this new solution has some homeowners pleased, it is generating a lot of anger in the community.
Laura Nunez, who has lived on Macredes Avenue in San Jose most of her life, said everything changed on her street when homeless people began using the rickety chain link fence at the end of the block as a doorway to their encampments along I-280.
“Every time Caltrans would come out and repair it…as soon as they left they cut a hole in it and they just use that…that was their main access point to go in and out,” said Nunez. “We’ve had to live with their garbage. We’ve had to live with drug paraphernalia. The kids haven’t been able come out to play.”
Caltrans and the city heard the neighbors’ complaints and on Monday, workers were out building a taller barrier at the freeway on-ramp and on Macredes Avenue.
Some critics are comparing the new wall to President Trump’s proposed border wall.READ MORE: UPDATE: Thousands Forced To Flee Fawn Fire; New Evacuations Ordered South Of Shasta Lake
Jaime Foberg, the founder of “In Their Shoes” homeless advocacy said, “I think of Trump. And I think how horrible it is that they would keep people out. It really does make me sad.”
The new 8-foot-tall fence is rigid and much stronger, with smaller holes to make it difficult to cut or climb.
Neighbors hope it will make the campers move on, but those who work with the homeless argue the city is giving them nowhere else to go.
Pastor Scott Wagers with Cham Deliverance Ministry said, “Symbolically, I think it sends the wrong message…that a city like San Jose is kind of…positing itself against the homeless.”
But Nunez says, “Take them to your neighborhood and you live the way we’ve been living the past few years, and then you’ll sing a different tune after that.”
They say good fences make good neighbors. It will be interesting to see if that holds true once this one is completed.MORE NEWS: Amazon Purchases Land In Pleasanton For Undetermined Project
Neighbors say there are about 60 people living at the homeless encampment. It’s believed most moved there after the city closed down the huge encampment known as “The Jungle” two years ago.