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The Silicon Valley Paradox: One In Four People Are At Risk of Hunger ( 372

Zorro shares a report from The Guardian: One in four people in Silicon Valley are at risk of hunger, researchers at the Second Harvest food bank have found. Using hundreds of community interviews and data modeling, a new study suggests that 26.8% of the population -- almost 720,000 people -- qualify as "food insecure" based on risk factors such as missing meals, relying on food banks or food stamps, borrowing money for food, or neglecting bills and rent in order to buy groceries. Nearly a quarter are families with children. "We call it the Silicon Valley paradox," says Steve Brennan, the food bank's marketing director. "As the economy gets better we seem to be serving more people." Since the recession, Second Harvest has seen demand spike by 46%. The bank is at the center of the Silicon Valley boom -- both literally and figuratively. It sits just half a mile from Cisco's headquarters and counts Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg among its major donors. But the need it serves is exacerbated by this industry's wealth; as high-paying tech firms move in, the cost of living rises for everyone else.

The scale of the problem becomes apparent on a visit to Second Harvest, the only food bank serving Silicon Valley and one of the largest in the country. In any given month it provides meals for 257,000 people -- 66m pounds of food last year. Because poverty is often shrouded in shame, their clients' situations can come as a surprise. "Often we think of somebody visibly hungry, the traditional homeless person," Brennan said. "But this study is putting light on the non-traditional homeless: people living in their car or a garage, working people who have to choose between rent and food, people without access to a kitchen."

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The Silicon Valley Paradox: One In Four People Are At Risk of Hunger

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  • They are paying around $36,000 in property taxes a year in Silicon Valley.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      Obviously it's not enough. People gotta eat, taxes must go up!

  • by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @12:04AM (#55729763)

    Silicon Valley has some of the most draconian development regulations in the US (part of it is a field used for grazing cows). And when you can't develop, you can't build houses and apartments to build up the existing housing stock, and people end up living in cars and garages. Silicon Valley won't become exactly affordable, but at least people will have more places to live at lower rents and prices.

    • Housing needs to go up. As in multistories. But most people don't want to live in high rises or in high density areas. A few people do, but most prefer elbow room. But the bay area is impacted; it can't grow outwards easily (like LA) because it's surrounded by water and mountains. So it can only grow upwards. But the higher density also means it must have better roads and mass transit at the same time, which is a major snag.

      Overall, we've just got too many people. The tech industry should spread out. T

  • Considering what it costs to rent, based on me (I cook, don't eat out, don't eat frozen food), if they are spending more than 10% of their monthly outgo on food they're idiots.

    The real headline should be "1 in 4 are at risk of being homeless".
    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

      You must make over $276K a year or not live in Silicon Valley then?

      I'm not sure how I even feel about this. On one hand, it sucks to be upside down like that. On the other hand, if you can't make ends meet in an area like that, it's probably time to bite the bullet and move elsewhere. You should not have to live as a modern day serf.

      You may not be able to live in California, but you will be able to live in a house with food. (And I type this as someone who moved away from California.)

    • I spent about 50% - 70% of my income on foods and drinks ... no idea for what else I should spent it.

  • by skam240 ( 789197 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @01:57AM (#55730129)

    The vast majority of this is the fault of shit hole city planning and false liberals. Everything within a half hour drive of google or apple headquarters should be 20+ story buildings and largly would be if zoned appropriately. It's the "perserving" of the old communities that has created a completely unsustainable environment for working class people. Far to many "liberals" are happy to maintain backwards city planning that leaves the working class impoverished so they maintain their own property values and quaint downtowns at the expense of any type of livable environment for those who sell them their food.

    I live in the Northbay of California (an hourish drive from SF) and we're experiencing the same thing up here (to a lesser degree of course). Tons of "liberals" who demonstratably don't give a rats ass about anyone earning less than 50k.

    • > should be 20+ story buildings

      Salt Lake City is reasonably close to the San Andreas fault, which many geologists consider to be overdue for a major earthquake. Tall housing could be a serious safety problem.

      • Salt Lake is 500+ miles from there.

        • Oh, dear. You've my apology for that. I was recently dealing with a business there, and they were on my mind. I did check correctly in the first place, Silicon Valley is near the San Andreas fault and the region is overdue for a sizeable earthquake.

      • by ezdiy ( 2717051 )
        If anything, the fault line argument makes old buildings a hazard, not modern skyscrapers. Modern office buildings are technically subject to much bigger forces from the lateral wind (150Mph+). Earthquakes (even 9.0) are comparably puny to that (although buildings are specially tailored in highly seismic areas). Think places like Japan.
        • Sorry, but except perhaps the great pyramids, nothing will withstand a mag 9 earthquake.
          If you want to refer to Fukushima, the quake was 450 miles away from Fukushime ...

          • by ezdiy ( 2717051 )
            Documented Daly City earthquakes of 1906 (~7.8mag) and 1957 (~5.7mag) are comparable to what at least one japanese metropolis gets every few years, yes.

            2011 tsunami was indeed different - the epicenter was 90 miles from the shore, of "megathrust" geologic class, equivalent of which in bay area would be []. When this happens, the biggest problem is obviously the tsunami, the earthquake as such is fine (as long you build for it). The trouble of when this got twisted and politi
    • by djinn6 ( 1868030 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @03:39AM (#55730397)
      Even if you build up, you'll still end up with the same problem. Look at New York. There's tons of skyscrapers there, but the price is just as high. Large cities have lot's of positive feedback loops that attract more and more people and businesses to it, and unless living costs rise enough to exclude some, they'll just keep coming. Eventually, you'll run into physical limitations on how high you can build.
      • Yes but we're not anywhere close to that. Right now, New York is limited in a way similar to Silicon Valley. Google New York air rights and you'll see it's a complicated mess. There are only 300 million people in this country and we have a lot of land mass. We will run out of people well before we hit any physical limits on building skyscrapers.
  • by robi5 ( 1261542 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @06:16AM (#55730673)

    that all of the companies there that cause inequality there, ie. successful ones attracting highly paid employees are internet based businesses. The internet is a thing that allows remote collaboration and global reach to whatever, be it markets or talent.

    It's shocking that as the internet grows, it's being eclipsed by the growth of Silicon Valley as its driver, a single-node dependency.

    Corps that happen to have significant production offices elsewhere also seem to drink the "work in person" cool-aid.

    So in effect, a global network enabling remote collaboration spawned companies whose job posts are all "ah you must come to the office, share bathrooms, smell others' food, showcase piercings and tattoos, do a useless standup ritual every morning though we get work done on git repos, slack etc. because we're building out this global collaborative network!"

    Google, Facebook, ... why aren't you dogfooding?

  • "The economy is getting better".

    But that doesn't mean it's getting better for everyone. And the wealthiest don't notice, because no one's really poor any more, are they? Well, no one important, anyway.

    It's not exactly rocket science it?

  • 1. Elect a new gov.
    2. Build big buildings. Demand 30% of the building is reserved for poor people. No permission to build unless poor people are given 30% for free.
    3. Fill the vertical slums with poor people.
    5. Reflect back to when regulations kept the area nice.
    6. Smart new money quickly moves to a gated community.
  • > "As the economy gets better we seem to be serving more people."

    By "better" he probably means a rising GDP or Dow Jones Industrial Average, but the average isn't the only measure. The distribution matters too, and it's hard to argue that a growing gap between the rich and poor is an improvement.

  • A pure liberal market solution (and I'm using "liberal" here in its correct sense, not in the sense that far too many American think) would fix this.

    OK, so janitors, restaurant workers, nurses, generally what you might term service sector workers, can't afford the rents in a certain area because their wages are too low.

    Those people remove themselves from the labour market: they move away.

    Businesses that provide services find themselves without staff.

    What to do? Go out of business? Or offer higher w

    • A pure liberal market solution would be to end zoning laws.

      Plenty of demand for housing, but none being built due to government interference.
  • Living near NYC means I certainly shouldn't throw stones about expensive housing. But California real estate is completely out to lunch. If you don't already own a house, you're either paying over a million for the cheapest places that aren't a 2-hour commute to work, or thousands and thousands a month in rent. Outside of Manhattan and gentrified parts of Queens and Brooklyn, I haven't seen anywhere else in the country where everyone wants to live in the exact same location so badly and are willing to saddl

    • ....I've often wondered how people with ordinary jobs and incomes live in bubble areas like this. Metro NYC is a good example, and there's a lot of stratification in the suburban towns because of it....some places are just "working class towns" ....There are so many more affordable places to start up a business!

      That's exactly the point. People say "if you can't afford it, don't live there". But where should the police, firefighters, ambulance, teachers, etc. live? In CA, most of these public workers earn just enough, they cannot qualify for "low cost" housing, but also cannot afford to live near where they work.

      It will be interesting when the "big one" (earthquake) arrives and people in some of the more affluent areas will suddenly realize there are no emergency services because all those workers are staying hom

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