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San Jose Evicts Homeless from Dangerous 'Hobbit Caves'

On Thursday the City of San Jose began its controversial clearance of the Jungle, which was thought to be the largest homeless encampment in the US—and was certainly large enough to have its own label on Google Maps. The 68-acre site, located alongside Story Road and Coyote Creek not far from 280, had roughly 300 residents, according to Mother Jones (NBC Bay Area puts the number closer to 200). In the process of clearing out the camp's makeshift dwellings, which included tents and lean-tos, crews discovered a handful of underground dwellings they dubbed "Hobbit caves."

As of this morning, two or three had been found, though more could be scattered throughout the encampment. NBC describes the structures as "sub-Earth one-, two- and three-bedroom 'homes,'" with mattresses, books, and other possessions left inside after residents were ordered to leave. "They're really, really dangerous," San Jose housing department project manager Ray Bramson told NBC. "They can cave in at any moment. And they can flood really easily from the inside from the rising creek."

After voting in July 2013 to close the Jungle over "environmental and safety concerns," the San Jose city council set aside $4 million to give 200 homeless people access to a case worker and housing for two years. The help comes in the form of housing vouchers, though, as Mother Jones recently noted, Silicon Valley's very tight rental market puts homeless prospective tenants, even those with steady jobs, at a disadvantage compared with others who have perfect credit and rental histories.

· Evicted from the Jungle [Curbed SF]
· "Hobbit Caves" Found in "The Jungle" Homeless Encampment [NBC Bay Area]
· Hanging Out With the Tech Have-Nots at a Silicon Valley Shantytown [Mother Jones]

Story Road & Senter Road, San Jose, CA