Silicon Valley's Massive Homeless Camp Is Being Shut Down For Good -- Here's What We Saw When We Visited Last Year

Despite Silicon Valley’s remarkable wealth, the area is home to more than 7,500 homeless people and one of the biggest homeless camps in the United States.

Nicknamed “The Jungle,” the 65-acre encampment is located in a middle-class neighbourhood in San Jose and at times has been home to more than 200 people.

Now, after years of cleanup attempts, authorities are shutting the The Jungle down for good, the Los Angeles Times reports.

While around three-quarters of residents have been relocated, around 50 still have not found a new place to live despite rent subsidies and assistance from the city, according to the LA Times.

Business Insider visited The Jungle over the course of a week in July 2013.

Robert Johnson wrote an earlier version of this story.

Welcome to the Jungle, the largest homeless camp in the Silicon Valley and continental United States. It's relatively close to the headquarters of tech giants like Apple and Google, but a world apart. Locally, the gap between these massively successful companies and a vast homeless camp like The Jungle is called 'The Great Divide.'

Business Insider visited The Jungle several times in July 2013 to talk to the people who lived there and see what their lives were like.

The conditions were deplorable.

Yet people still lived out their daily lives. Around 200 remained in the camp when authorities started clearing it in early December 2014.

There is no one 'type' of person who lives in The Jungle. Officials have said that only the 'chronically homeless' settle in places like this in Silicon Valley, but that's not what we found.

They also blame the homeless problem on skyrocketing housing costs. In some parts of the Valley, rents have risen up to 300% of the national average in recent years, according to The Telegraph.

For some, The Jungle was the last stop on a decline that started with losing a job or fighting an illness.

The woman who lived here lost her business and had a daughter who often lived in a neighbouring camp.

The man who lived here was a union carpenter.

Some people we met had lived in the jungle for years.

San Jose has spent $4 million over the last 18 months to relocate residents of The Jungle, but not all have found new homes.

GiGi was a long-term resident of The Jungle when we met her in 2013. She got lucky and moved into an apartment shortly after.

Mama Red had a daughter who intended to give birth in the camp.

Giggles had lived on the street most of her life since she turned 18.

Residents put a lot of time and effort into building their Jungle encampments. San Jose city officials call this type of semi-permanent camp an 'entrenchment.'

Patricia built this underground room for protection against intruders.

People here felt that any type of barrier protecting them from their more unstable neighbours was simply a good thing.

The camp grew so crowded in recent years that nearby Coyote Creek has become heavily polluted. The endangered steelhead trout that once lived there are almost gone, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The water that fills much of Coyote Creek is runoff from local roads, land and parking lots. It arrives through immense pipes shored up by these sand bags.

With few other options, people still often bathed and did their laundry in the creek.

When we visited, homeowners in nearby neighborhoods were concerned the longer people stayed, the greater the chance Jungle fires could spread to their homes, as this one nearly did.

We saw some residents were collecting cans and bottles to make money.

Or stripping wire for copper to sell at scrap yards.

Empty rubber housings from old power lines were all over The Jungle.

When Troy, a carpenter, couldn't find work, that didn't stop him from building this tree house.

This homeless mason had used his job skills to build a set of stairs from his camp to the creek.

Just days after we visited, the city came through and cleared out The Jungle, removing all the camps seen in these pictures.

In the year since, hundreds have returned. But officials say the current shutdown will be permanent.

The city estimates it will take about two weeks to dismantle the camp.

Once it's cleared, the city plans to patrol it with park rangers and other law enforcement agencies to keep the homeless from moving back in, Reuters reports.

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