Residents of the nation's largest homeless camp are protesting tight port-a-potty time limits at the San Jose camp, saying the crackdowns have caused a "sanitation crisis" and demanding city leaders prioritize homelessness.
"I feel like they're punishing us,” said Grace, who lives at the encampment. “I feel that in my heart that's what they're doing to us."
Some of the roughly 350 people who live in “the Jungle,” across the street from Happy Hollow Zoo, accused the city of "inhumane treatment" at their pre-election protest and news conference Monday.
Residents and homeless advocates said they’ve been left in a very unsanitary limbo: They want the city to drop its time restrictions on portable toilets installed on the premises. Right now, they can only be used from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
As a result of the toilets’ early-closing time, “we have a real sanitation crisis,” Pastor Scott Wagers said.
Residents on Monday also called for an end to police sweeps.
"We want the city to stop their sweeps of encampments until sanctuaries are identified on city, county or church properties,” resident Robert Aguirre said.
San Jose officials point out its program has already found housing for about 125 former Jungle residents and will continue to do more.
"Encampments represent an unsafe, unsanitary and dangerous place for people to be,” said Ray Bramson, San Jose’s project manager in charge of the encampment issue. “We want to make sure that this type of concentration and this type of trouble people are facing there on those sites doesn't continue to occur."
The city plans to close the Jungle in mid-December.