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Overnight bus route doubles as hotel for homeless in San Jose

Bus 22 route AKA 'Hotel 22' for homeless

Bus 22 route in San Jose CA AKA ‘Hotel 22′ for homeless

Steep housing costs in the San Jose CA area no doubt contribute to chronic homelessness. Some homeless spend $2 to ride Bus 22 at night so they can get a few hours of sleep. It’s the only bus route in the area that runs 24 hours. Late at night and in the wee early morning hours, the bus is filled with homeless people, including children, sleeping. Thankfully, city authorities do not try to roust them, saying as long as passengers pay the fare, they can sleep on the bus. Along with a shortage of affordable housing (2 bdr condos can easily cost $500,000), there is a shortage of emergency shelters.

Many homeless also live in Coyote Creek, which I often pass while running. It runs through San Jose. There are large homeless encampments along its route. I’ve seen migrant families with children, senior citizens, drug addicts, and mentally ill there. Business Insider has an excellent in-depth series on homelessness in San Jose.

Welcome to the jungle: The largest homeless camp in mainland USA is right in the heart of Silicon Valley.

San Jose city finances are in dire condition, primarily due to pensions benefits it cannot possibly hope to pay long-term. Staffing and funding for police has been slashed and many officers have quit. Social services have suffered even more. The gap between tech company elites and the rest of Silicon Valley is gaping and growing.

There are also considerable numbers of homeless in St James Park downtown. It’s fine during the day and dangerous late at night. There have been least two grisly drug / gang related murders there recently. The downtown area is easily accessible by light rail and is open territory for gangs, at least two of whom are fighting for dominance.

[In 2012] San Jose and Santa Clara County had the nation’s highest percentage of unsheltered homeless as well as the third-highest number of chronically homeless

“The bus says to me that people are so desperate that they will ride it all night,” said Jenny Niklaus, the CEO of the nonprofit EHC LifeBuilders. “Think about it: We are in such a state of crisis that people are eager to ride a bus, and it’s been that way for years.”

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