From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/jungle-thousands-homeless-people-live-shantytowns-epicenter-high-tech-super-rich
Residents of Silicon Valley’s largest homeless encampment illustrate the widening divide between the nation’s haves and have-nots.
By Evelyn Nieves
December 15, 2013
By mid-morning on Thursday, the sun was shining hard enough to dry wet blankets and the residents of the Jungle began surfacing, letting each other know they were still alive.
Six straight nights of freezing temperatures had tested their tenacity, not to mention their tarps and tents. It was so cold that the raccoons that raid the trash bins every night disappeared, a first. Ditto the crows, squirrels and feral cats. Life in the Jungle, 75 wooded acres off Interstate 101 in San Jose that comprises Silicon Valley’s largest homeless encampment, came to a standstill.
With the hard ground thawing, the Jungle looked as if spring had sprung. People strolled the dirt paths, rode their bikes and walked their dogs. Everyone in the Jungle—200 men and women, give or take—looked ready to celebrate surviving the earliest, coldest cold snap on record.
“We were lucky,” said Troy Feid, a former carpenter, squinting into the bright sky. “Not everyone was.”
Four homeless men in Silicon Valley did not make it through the season’s first bout of sub-freezing temperatures. Over the last two weeks, three of them froze to death on the streets of San Jose, not far from the Jungle.
That people live and die on the streets of Silicon Valley is no news to the poor, of course. With more than 6,500 tech companies in all, Santa Clara County is home to the biggest stars in the tech universe, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, eBay and Apple. But the land of high-tech milk and honey is also a prime example of the widening divide between the nation’s haves and have-nots.
For all its stock-option millionaires, the San Jose/Santa Clara County region (pop. 1.8 million) also has the nation’s fifth largest population of homeless (after New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Diego), according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The main culprits? Budget cuts that have frayed the safety net and sky-high housing costs. These days, a three-bedroom, one-bath starter home in San Jose, the county seat and one of its most affordable cities, costs a cool million. Rents for a two-bedroom apartment go from $2,000 to $5,000 a month, and those on the low-end are scarce.
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/jungle-thousands-homeless-people-live-shantytowns-epicenter-high-tech-super-rich