SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – A new survey shows that the homeless population in Santa Clara County has exploded with most of those without a home living in San Jose.
“It’s a big problem,” said Robert Papiri who lives in Japantown.
Papiri says that in just the last 18 months, he’s seen the homeless population increase significantly in his area alone.
On a neighborhood online forum, Papiri said people complain that the train that runs through Japantown blasts its horn several times in the middle of the night to try and avoid the homeless who have set up their tents along the track.
“It’s not making anybody happy,” he said.
The survey, which was federally mandated, shows that Santa Clara County has seen a 31% increase in the last two years. In 2017, the county had 7,394 homeless. Today the numbers stands at 9,706.
In San Jose, 6,172 now live in the city compared to 4,350 in 2017, which is a 42% increase.
“We are not reducing homelessness because as quickly as we’re able to house one individual three more people are being pushed outside,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in a news conference Thursday.
But homeless advocate Scott Wagers of CHAM Deliverance Ministries believes that county and city leaders could do more, and that the existing policies are failing the homeless.
“We’re losing the battle and the war when it comes to housing,” Wagers said. “These government approaches just aren’t effective and these numbers will prove it; numbers don’t lie.”
Liccardo doesn’t agree, and described the report as a call to action to change their approach and double down on the solutions that are working. He also asked that residents need to change their “not in my neighborhood” attitude.
“We have to think differently about this challenge,” said Liccardo. “The only way we solve this is by embracing the responsibility we all have to have to house our homeless residents in our own cities and our neighborhoods.
He said that the city and county have added more than 7,000 low-income housing, but that more temporary housing needs to be built to help with the homeless crisis.
Meanwhile, residents like Papiri are watching homeless increasingly move into their neighborhoods.
“In this area, it’s never been this bad,” he said.