In Mountain View, California — where Google and several Silicon Valley tech companies call home — staggering rent prices have forced some residents out of apartments or houses and into more temporary dwellings, like vans or RVs.
Meanwhile, resentment from local homeowners has risen as the number of vehicles lining the streets continues to grow, and a “crackdown” on the city’s homeless has begun, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
The most immediate concern for those living in the motor homes and trailers was a recent vote by the Mountain View city council in March, which bans vehicles taller than 6 or 7 feet tall from parking overnight on public roads. According to the Mountain View Voice, that ban won’t go into effect before late 2020 to help the city and its residents prepare. Still, concerns amongst the RV-dwellers is reaching new heights and major questions of where they will go remain unanswered.
As reported by Bloomberg, some of these residents whose future living situations are now in limbo work at some of Silicon Valley’s largest companies. One person interviewed is a security guard at Google who didn’t want to spend almost her entire paycheck on the $2,500 per month it would cost to rent an apartment. Instead, she chose to rent an RV for $800.
Another was a Lyft driver who lives in an RV with his wife. Together they make around $100,000 per year, but after doing the math on what an apartment would cost in the area, decided they would rather be able to save for their future than spend it all on rent.
Major tech companies, like Google, often get the blame for putting increased demand on the housing market, and thus causing rent prices to skyrocket. Google specifically has donated millions towards homelessness initiatives in the Mountain View area, according to Bloomberg, including a local apartment development that offers affordable housing options. The 67 units in the project, however, will only put a small dent in the housing crisis local residents are facing.
The issue also worsens when angry Silicon Valley residents are brought into the equation. According to Bloomberg, two years ago at a city hall meeting in nearby San Jose, those who opposed building more affordable housing chanted “build a wall,” in reference to keeping the homeless out of their town.
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