Not everyone is benefiting from Silicon Valley’s latest tech boom.
As rents soar, nearly 55% of Silicon Valley workers do not make the $90,000 necessary to support a family of four in the region. The area has the fifth-largest homeless population in the country, and in the past three years the problem has gotten much worse, according to the latest Silicon Valley Index.
After reporting on the homelessness crisis last fall, we returned this month to find more people living on the street around San Francisco and a growing and deteriorating homeless camp in San Jose.
The housing market is booming too, with lots of luxury construction like the NEMA residential high-rise in San Francisco's once-crime-filled Tenderloin.
With shuttle service to suburban corporate campuses, tech stars can happily live in San Francisco and other desirable areas.
But while soaring real estate prices are good thing for some people, many are finding it harder and harder to live in the area.
Although San Francisco spends $US165 million a year fighting the problem, the city's homeless population has hovered at more than 6,000 people for almost a decade. Homelessness numbers across the region have increased sharply.
San Francisco landlords are now using a loophole in tenants' rights law, called the Ellis Act, to evict longtime residents. Using this loophole, San Francisco landlords served 1,977 eviction notices from March 2013 to February 28, 2014.
When a 60-unit affordable housing project opened in 2014 on this former vacant lot, more than 2,800 people applied. The demand is overwhelming.
Elsewhere life is getting harder for the homeless. Palo Alto recently prohibited people from sleeping in their cars, and the local Cubberley Community Center controversially cut its public shower access.
With few other options, some homeless head farther south into Silicon Valley and arrive at 'The Jungle' in San Jose.
The Jungle is 65 acres of San Jose city filled with people who feel they have no place else to go. Rodney here is on parole and has to make his appointments and keep his ankle monitor charged from his camp.
Conditions are deteriorating too. I saw drug use, violence, and severe mental illness when I toured the camp and heard horrifying reports of sexual assaults carried out by men with machetes.
There are more homeless veterans in Silicon Valley than anywhere in the country, and some of them live here.
County officials send medical teams down here each week to treat patients in the field and in this mobile clinic, but the demand never ends.
Local nonprofits do what they can to ease life in the camp, provide shelter, and help homeless residents build a bridge back to their former lives.
At the same time, there is pressure to close the camp. The State filed a pollution complaint against the city March 20, 2014 charging the San Jose with contaminating local waterways by allowing residents of The Jungle to remain.
There is talk of a new program to put homeless people up in local motels, but this is just a stop-gap measure. What Silicon Valley needs are more homes that everybody can afford.
For now, America's most technologically advanced region must accept that a shocking number of locals live without basic human needs.
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