Our office is aware of the unacceptable state of the growing homeless encampment on Monterey and Branham, and we are actively working towards achieving short-term and long-term solutions. Addressing this issue is a top priority for our office.
The Housing Department has communicated to our office that, due to COVID-19, abatements can only take place in cases of an imminent public safety threat. Based off of the detailed emails that our office has received from Deer Run II residents, we do believe that such a threat exists. We encourage residents to frequently communicate the danger of the encampment to Homeless Concerns at email@example.com, to call 911 if they witness any urgently dangerous illegal behavior, and to call (408) 277-8900 to report non-emergency illegal activity. City staff logs these complaints, and will be able to devote more attention and resources to sites with more resident engagement.
Currently, City staff visits this site weekly in order to offer services and shelter to the unhoused individuals, as well as to pick up trash. Councilmember Mahan got the opportunity to visit the encampment in April 2021 during one of these visits, and was able to speak with outreach staff regarding the ongoing challenges they face. One of the largest roadblocks remains the hesitancy of unhoused people to accept services or shelter referrals, compounded by substance abuse and mental health issues. City staff has emphasized the importance of building relationships and trust with the unhoused people so that they feel more comfortable receiving help. While the status quo is not ideal for the unhoused nor housed community, managing the encampment via services and blight removal is a step towards providing relief.
In March 2021, Councilmember Mahan sat down with Captain Ellen Washburn of the Police Department's Southern Division to bring to light the public safety issues facing the Deer Run II community. Captain Washburn will be coordinating with the district supervisor to ensure officers patrol the area during the late-evening and early-morning hours to look out for any noise disturbances and other types of crime that have been reported over the past several weeks (public intoxication, fighting, ). The SJPD will be increasing patrols in the area. Please continue to call 911 if you feel there is an emergency to report. For a non-emergency crime you’d like to report, please contact (408)227-8900.
Looking at long-term solutions, Councilmember Mahan recently put forward a request for the City to develop a comprehensive, city-wide encampment management strategy, which was approved by Council in February 2021. You can read more about this policy in this article in the San Jose Spotlight, and via this short infographic. Councilmember Mahan’s proposal will ensure that encampments receive proper sanitary, social, and trash pick-up services, and that these encampments cannot exist in sensitive public spaces near homes, parks, schools, and creeks. The Housing department has begun to develop the strategy, and plans to pilot a setback around schools by May 2021.