Silicon Valley's economic success causing housing problems

Silicon Valley's post-recession resurgence is highlighting major housing problems that won't go way.
February 4, 2014 7:37:02 PM PST
Silicon Valley's post-recession resurgence is highlighting major problems that won't go way. More people are moving in to snap up new jobs, but that's putting a strain again on housing and freeways.

No one is complaining about all the new jobs that are being created and that people are coming in to fill them.

However, Silicon Valley leaders are concerned that no one is working hard enough to try to figure out a plan to house them.

It's hard to miss all the new apartment complexes going up or newly completed in Silicon Valley. At least 7,400 housing units were approved in the past year, but that's far short to meet the needs of 33,000 people who moved here to take jobs.

The latest Silicon Valley Index, produced by Joint Venture Silicon Valley and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, says the region created 46,000 new jobs last year, up 3.4 percent.

But the shortage of housing has put pressure on home prices and rent. A one-bedroom apartment at a new complex on Tasman Avenue starts at nearly $2,300.

More people working means more traffic congestion. And Caltrain is feeling the strain, too.

"It actually grew 26 percent over the last three years. Caltrain is popular and people like the service, so that's the good news. The bad news is that Caltrain can do only so much. And it's doing what it can and It's like maxed out," Joint Venture Silicon Valley President Russell Hancock, Ph.D., said.

The greatest pressure may be on middle and lower income workers. The index says their pay has stagnated.

"We have three children and I'm a stay-home mom and my husband works full-time, so I believe it's by God's grace that we're able to make ends meet," San Jose resident Maryann Cisneros said.

Nearly half of valley households earn over $100,000, which is up 2 percent in the past year, while one-third of households earning between $35,000 and $99,000 is down 2 percent.

"So we can no longer say, boy, if we just keep this going, they're going to be pulled in and they're going to get the benefits. It hasn't happened," Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO Emmett Carson, Ph.D., said.

Keeping up with rising food and housing costs is a challenge.

"I'm here shopping at Walmart finding bargains. I think everybody is," Walmart shopper Rachel Ruiz said.


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