- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Following the closure of The Jungle, the nation’s largest homeless camp, city officials are aggressively cleaning out other encampments before they grow.

More than 200 homeless sites have been counted in San Jose over the last 12 months, the San Jose Mercury News reported (http://bit.ly/1sY7jo9 ).

Last weekend, workers cleared out 15 to 20 people who recently had set up a makeshift tent city on a lot beneath a downtown overpass that was once used by skateboarders.

Starting in early November, homeless people set up tents, started fires for cooking and warmth and left mounds of trash in the area. Now the fence surrounding the lot has been repaired and reinforced with razor wire. The city has also posted “No Trespassing” signs.

In early December, officials cleared out the last of roughly 200 people who had been living in The Jungle encampment in central San Jose.

A portion of those people are in subsidized housing and others have been given rental subsidy vouchers. The city also is close to housing some homeless people in motels.

Last week, the county board of supervisors asked city staff to research ways to expand shelter space as well as possibly buying prebuilt mini-homes, something that has been tried in other cities as an alternative to shelter beds.

The sweep last weekend was one of four post-Jungle cleanups the city has conducted.

Ray Bramson, the city’s homeless response manager, said the city is working to avoid another situation like The Jungle.

“The damage that it did to the surrounding neighborhoods and to the environment is unacceptable, and it was a danger to the people living there,” he told the Mercury News.

It took more than three weeks to completely clean out the 68-acre Jungle site. Teams of city contractors and water district workers removed 601 tons of garbage and 315 grocery carts, Bramson said.

Surveys show there are about 5,000 homeless people living inside the San Jose city limits on any given night.

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Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com

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