An Indian American family was forced to temporarily abandon their San Jose, Calif., home Nov. 19, as dwellers in a homeless encampment abutting their property allegedly set fire to their fence.
As the fire raged along their fence line, Inderjeet Singh told KRON4 news that he tried to staunch the flames by dousing them with water, but to no avail. Three sections of the fence were burned down in the incident. Singh and his wife Gagan and their nine-month-old baby quickly fled to their car. “We just left and stayed in the car for about two to three hours. It was a scary moment for us,” Singh told KRON4, which broke the story.
“I was really worried about my baby because we got her after nine years of struggle and she’s really precious for us,” Singh’s wife Gagan told the television station.
A video clip shows a person pouring propane onto the refuse in the encampment, which is situated in an alley behind Singh’s home. The property is owned, but city officials have not managed to contact the owner to clear out homeless people from the site.
Homelessness in San Jose – situated in wealthy Santa Clara County, home to the Silicon Valley – is on the rise, as the average rent of a one-bedroom apartment lists for $2,600 a month. Median home prices average around $700,000, though most available listings are priced in the millions.
In June, Santa Clara County released data from the federally-required biennial “Point-in-Time Homeless Census and Survey,” which surveys the number of homeless people during the first 10 days of January each year. The county summated that the homeless population had risen by 13 percent over the previous year, to a total of 7,394 people.
While the number of homeless veterans and disabled people had dropped, there was a significant increase in homeless families and youth.
In 2014, San Jose city officials shut down “The Jungle,” a 68-acre homeless encampment. After that, increased numbers of people were living on the streets in various parts of the city.
The Singhs will have to pay out of pocket for the restoration of their fence line. At least half a dozen fires have appeared in a similar manner over the past couple of months, reported KRON4, adding that the city’s attempts to shut down such encampments simply means homeless residents will create a similar shelter at another location.