Robert Aguirre is 60-years-old and has a pretty incredible story.
He used to be the owner of a successful engineering consulting firm, but is now homeless and living in the “nation’s largest homeless encampment,” according to Mother Jones. The a community just happens to be right in the middle of Silicon Valley. It is called “The Jungle.”
He was offered a job in China before the economy crashed in 2008, but he declined. “I didn’t want to move there,” he told Mother Jones. He and his wife (who is handicapped and currently works as a medical clerk making $US3,000 a month), were living in their car after a housing mix-up with a former landlord. Then they moved to “The Jungle.”
Mother Jones has Aguirre’s story, after reporter Josh Harkinson visited the camp and spent time getting to know Aguirre. While Harkinson says he could not verify every detail that Aguirre shared with him, it is his belief that much of what Aguirre says is true.
In his own words, Aguirre wrote his story for Harkinson, which you can read here on Mother Jones.
This is what Aguirre says about living in the homeless camp:
The Jungle is a forested stretch of Coyote Creek where about 300 people live in tents and shanties. They use the creek as a latrine or to bathe in; they just don’t drink from it. I’ve heard that the Jungle is the largest encampment of homeless individuals in the United States. The city doesn’t refer to it as the Jungle, which kind of connotes wild animals or wild behaviour. It’s actually really close to lots of tech campuses. Every day, a Yahoo bus goes by.
Aguirre says they are hardly the only people who are “gainfully employed but just can’t find a place.” They even have iPhones and a wireless hotspot.
They also do what they can to help themselves get back on their feet. Aguirre says:
I go to all the city hall meetings, the housing meetings, the county supervisors meetings to advocate for homeless people. We are trying to get this place cleaned up and to get people taken out of here as safely and quickly as possible and trying not to abandon anyone.
Read the full story on Mother Jones here, and watch the video that Mother Jones made below: