This story is a part of Business Insider’s “
Homeless In Silicon Valley” series reported by Robert Johnson and edited by Chris C. Anderson. Jill Klausen and graphic designer Mike Nudelman contributed to this series.
Life in California’s Silicon Valley homeless encampment, “The Jungle,” is difficult on the best of days, but for women the challenges are especially daunting: Rapes are not uncommon.
To better protect themselves, Patricia, 36, and Giggles, 55, live together in a shelter they’ve dug beneath the California scrub land.
Though the effort provides them with some peace of mind, it is shelters like this that confound city officials who look at “entrenchment” as a thornier issue in the overall homeless problem plaguing Silicon Valley. The county sweeps The Jungle clean every few months and fills shelters like this in, but residents are hauling the dirt out again even before squad cars leave the scene.
When we met Patricia and Giggles in mid-July, Patricia had just gotten back from raiding a dumpster for scrap metal and Giggles was doing some housekeeping.
Here’s how they live.
Giggles has been homeless for most of her life since she was 18 and says she has lived with a series of abusive men in between.
Patricia has been homeless since she was 25 and earns money by selling scrap metal.
The two of them built this underground shelter to offer some safety and security against attacks and theft.
They wash their clothes here by the creek down the bank from their camp.
Here, Giggles rakes up small pieces of trash around her walkway. While neither of them have been in homes for some time, they do their best to keep their camp clean.
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