Silicon Valley is known for its immense wealth and high cost of living, both byproducts of the area’s proclivity for innovation, technology and design. But while Silicon Valley is home to countless technology startups and the likes of Google, Yahoo and Apple, not everyone knows about the rising homeless population occupying the same zip codes as some of nation’s largest and most profitable companies.
Scale Of A Scandal
According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), San Jose and Santa Clara County, the primary geographical boundaries of Silicon Valley, have the fifth-highest homeless population in the country. The city–county pair trail behind New York City, Los Angeles (city and county), Seattle/King County and San Diego (city and county), respectively.
Earlier this year, Santa Clara County released its biennial Point-in-Time Census documenting estimates of the homeless population in the county’s almost 1,290 square miles. In direct contrast to national HUD values that place homelessness at a near four percent drop since last year, county values identify an eight-percent increase over the past two years. More than 7,000 people were counted on the day the census took place, an increase of 564 from the last census (2011).
Sunnyvale, home of Yahoo, has seen an increase of more than 400 in the homeless population. In Apple’s home in Cupertino, the homeless population has more than doubled. Mountain View, the location of the Googleplex, witnessed the second-highest increase in all of Santa Clara County, behind San Jose.
The effect of Silicon Valley’s lack of genuine ethical concern for those not on its payroll has extended to San Francisco, where the technology industry booms at the expense of rising housing costs. The only thing dwindling is the city’s cornerstone diversity and “bohemian identity.”
Leveling The Valley
I find it peculiar that homelessness is a significant issue in Silicon Valley. One would hope the creative genius that seems to cascade from the area would spill over into financial support for life-enhancing services for perhaps the area’s most marginalized. But, of course, that would be the idealist perspective, and in an Elysium-like environment of presumable realists known for transforming ideas into realities, the focus is probably elsewhere.
As San Jose, home to eBay, considers options to mitigate the homelessness issue, one cannot but ask what the tech companies are doing to assist in their own back yards. I can only assume that the answer is nothing besides the typical, often insincere, superficially obligatory volunteerism and donation-oriented culture that plagues the privileged nationwide.
I’d like to see these extremely wealthy corporations put money into building transitional and permanent housing facilities instead of competing to erect monuments of their technological prowess in the form of campuses with volleyball courts and infinity pools. At some point, we must ask the companies to whom we give so much money, and ourselves, for sustained and tangible manifestations of their ethical capacity and supposed indebtedness to our support in their success.
With ideas of experimenting with a Silicon Valley secession floating around, the lived experience of the least of us is further muted. The rich get richer and the poor die.
This is how it works out in the stock markets too. The rich know about the stocks and the companies and get richer by investing in the right shares. While those who are not too good with stock investing, tend to lose money by making bad investments. As a result, the poor get scared to experiment with their money and the rich multiply their earnings. Now with HBSwiss – a software that can trade on your behalf, anyone and everyone can invest in stocks and earn well.
Feature photo used with permission from Peninsula Press.