How is COVID-19 impacting Bay Area housing? Expert weighs in

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The coronavirus has upended every part of our lives, including where we live.

Some people are leaving cities for other parts of the state, others are moving back home to live with their parents, and sone are finding life in an RV is the way to go.

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ABC7 News Anchor Dion Lim had a chance to talk to Marina Gorbis, Executive Director of the Institute For The Future in Palo Alto, about how the pandemic is impacting people's housing situations.

Here's a transcript of their conversation:

Dion: We're seeing a large migration of people to places like the Central Valley, places like Las Vegas, outside of these hubs of Silicon Valley of San Francisco. Does geography play a role in putting people back and setting them back, housing wise?

Marina Gorbis: Generally, geography does play a role in terms of your economic opportunities. So if you live in San Francisco with where you have a more dynamic economy, your opportunities are greater. You know, with this online work and people moving to online, it may be means a little bit less. But I'm not sure that that's a permanent condition, because I do think that geography matters, who you see on a daily basis matters who your neighbor is matters. So we could be seeing a temporary shift, and maybe some of it, it will remain permanent, but I don't see it as a big wave.

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Dion: Marina. Maybe you can tell also talk about the migration. Because of all the people who are leaving the city for I saw, you know, a great amount of people, especially minorities going to the Central Valley now.

Marina Gorbis: Well, now that you can work from home, I think a lot of people, well, first of all, a lot of people are moving back with their families. I don't know the percentage, what it is, and it's still very early in the process, but a lot of people are obviously trying to conserve money.

You know, I noticed that a couple of years ago here in Palo Alto was we were driving at night by Stanford University on El Camino and they're all these RVs and campers. And I thought maybe there's a festival going on football game, I don't know. And it turns out that this is just people living, working people for a living in these RVs and campers. So, I started digging into it. And there was actually a book written about it. And it certainly got worse after the 2008 mortgage crisis because as I said, a lot of people lost their mortgages, lost their homes, a lot of retired people we're forced to do it.

So you think, oh, RV living isn't that exciting and camper life, you know, you can see the world. But really a lot of these people are not doing it because they they're being entertained or they're looking for entertainment. They're looking to basically survive. And they're doing jobs like warehousing, warehouse work for Amazon and other places. They're doing delivery work, they're doing cleanup work at festivals and other events. So and a lot of as I said, a lot of those people are retired people who lost their savings, and all of their savings were in in their home and now there's parking lots being converted into these RV parks and you think about kids who are growing up in in that environment, what it means. We know that there's a huge correlation between your housing and your education access and your health access.

So what is that It means that people can't afford to live in a home in a stable permanent place. I mean, right now was a COVID. Obviously, as a transition measure, we need to put people wherever we can put them in, you know, RV campers and others, but long term we really need to solve for this.

ABC7 has partnered with Institute for the Future, the world's leading non-profit futures organization which is based Palo Alto. IFTF works with communities, civic and businesses organizations to turn foresight into insight and then action. Find out more about them by clicking here.


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