Though Silicon Valley is home to some of the wealthiest people in the world, the area also has one of the worst levels of income disparity in the country. According to the latest data from the US Department of Housing, Santa Clara County has the highest percentage of homelessness in all of America.
“The Jungle” is a 68-acre encampment where as many as 200 homeless people have lived in makeshift structures not far from the headquarters of major tech companies like Google and Apple.
This week, the city of San Jose began the process of dismantling the camp and evicting its residents, a third of whom have not been promised a place in a shelter.
Reuters photographer Beck Diefenbach captured the scene as people were forced to collect their belongings and leave.
The Jungle isn't far from the headquarters of tech giants like Apple, Adobe, and Google, and wealthy executives own mansions nearby. Some locals call the gap between the tech industry and the homeless population the 'Great Divide.'
The city warned residents that they would be evicted just three days before it happened. 'It was a change in approach,' Ray Bramson, San Jose's homelessness response manager, said to Reuters. 'Historically we'd come in and clean the site and people would come back and repopulate it. We realised that we needed to deal with the underlying issue creating the encampment, which is homelessness.'
Dismantling the camp was the second part of a $4 million project by the city, who had spent the last 18 months finding shelters where the homeless could be placed.
Though many Jungle residents slept in tents or bunkers, others had built more complicated structures that needed to be taken down.
Resident Tracy Sanchez stands behind barricades that had been put up around the area and pleads to be let down to get her belongings.
Collecting and transporting her things proved to be difficult, as Sanchez had no proper storage containers and opted for a plastic bag instead.
According to Reuters, the city plans to patrol the area regularly to ensure it doesn't become populated again.
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