Authorities are dismantling a notorious homeless camp known as "The Jungle" in the heart of California's affluent Silicon Valley, where skyrocketing rents have forced hundreds onto the streets. Municipal workers in white overalls and face masks moved into the camp along a creek in San Jose on Thursday where some 300 people live in tents and other makeshift lodging. "It is a disgrace," said housing advocate Sandy Perry, adding: "It's an example of the total failure of our city's housing policy as well as our state and our nation." "It's like a big family," said Yolanda Gutierrez, a former resident. "We all looked out for each other, especially the females that are single. We all had our own little group that we would check up on each other. "But unfortunately what they just did to us today it's like they split the family apart." The encampment, only a few minutes away from San Jose's downtown district, is home to people forced out of an overheating rental market as lucrative tech companies moved in. "We have been rehousing for the last 18 months," San Jose city spokesman David Vossbrink said. The city had found places for some 140 people in shelters, with some in hotels and motels. About 60 others had received rent-subsidy offers but had not yet found somewhere to live. The operation to close down the camp will last two or three weeks and will include putting up a reinforced fence to prevent anyone resettling. But the spokesman admitted that those forced to leave the "Jungle" could not all expect to be housed by the city, which has budgeted nearly US$10 million over three years for the homeless. San Jose is partly counting on a refuge set to open for the winter to house 200 of the county's estimated 5,000-7,000 homeless.