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Friday, 08 July 2016 00:00

Hundreds of Tenants Are Latest Victims of Silicon Valley's Creeping Inequality

Written by Deirdre Fulton Common Dreams
According to the Guardian's report, all of the 216 apartments at Reserve are protected by rent control laws, which means the landlord is barred from increasing rents beyond 5 percent each year. According to the Guardian's report, all of the 216 apartments at Reserve are protected by rent control laws, which means the landlord is barred from increasing rents beyond 5 percent each year. (Photo: ReserveSanJose.com)

'Much like the greater Bay Area and California as a whole, Silicon Valley is a far more unequal place than it used to be.'

The latest victims in "a tidal wave of displacement," about 670 people are set to be evicted from a rent-controlled housing complex in San Jose, California, to make way for more upscale development.

The Guardian reports Thursday on the residents of the Reserve Apartments—"located five miles away from Apple's headquarters, 14 miles away from Google and 20 miles away from Facebook"—who "recently learned they would all have to move out by April of next year so that developers could move forward with construction of new housing that many of them will not be able to afford."

Indeed, none of the apartments in the new mixed-use space will be below market rate, according to the developer.

As the Guardian notes, "The Reserve evictions are part of a much broader trend of northern California communities becoming unaffordable to middle-class people in the face of rapid gentrification and a booming tech economy."

The impacted tenants are people like Kira Nelson, a 32-year-old stay-at-home mother, who told the Guardian that she is considering moving 120 miles away to Sacramento—away from her family, but at least the rent is cheaper.

"I don't resent the millionaires ... but all the locals are moving out," she said.

A report from the California Budget and Policy Center released in May showed that in Silicon Valley, fewer than 50 percent of households are now middle class and half of all income gains flowed to the top 1 percent of earners.

"Much like the greater Bay Area and California as a whole, Silicon Valley is a far more unequal place than it used to be," the report read. "Income gaps have widened, the region's middle class has shrunk, and the punctuated prosperity of the region's wealthiest residents masks ground lost by Silicon Valley's most vulnerable individuals and families."

One effort to restore equilibrium is a proposal in San Francisco to tax tech companies and use the revenue to address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing.

The New York Times reported on the initiative on Monday, speaking to Maria Poblet, executive director of Causa Justa/Just Cause, which helps local residents threatened with eviction.

"You have a C.E.O. who cares about kids in Ghana one week or dolphins the next week. Those are important," she said. "But the people impacted by displacement in San Francisco are a worthy cause, too."

Link to original article from Common Dreams

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