San Jose

‘Pockets of Poverty:' Families in Need in Wealthy Silicon Valley Neighborhoods

Silicon Valley is home to some of the most affluent zip codes in the country.

In Cupertino, home of the west coast “big Apple,” the median home price is $1.7 million according to Zillow. Surrounding cities boast median home prices just as high: $2.36 million in Saratoga, $1.69 million in Los Gatos, and $2.47 million in Palo Alto.

Yet, in the shadows of the area’s wealthiest neighborhoods are hidden pockets of poverty.

Local service organizations say more families are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living.

“Our families are desperate. They are in crisis, and you can see it in their eyes,” said Josh Selo, executive director of West Valley Community Services. “They just want to do good for their families.”

Roughly 8.3 percent of Santa Clara County residents live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau

West Valley Community Services provides financial relief and other services to 2,200 families in Cupertino, West San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and surrounding mountain areas. Clients range in age from children to seniors, individuals and families. Twenty-five percent of clients are from Cupertino, 30 percent from west San Jose, and the rest from other service areas.

Selo says the cost of rent and groceries is putting families over the edge financially.

“We have clients up in the hills in Los Gatos who are renting out a patio or a porch to sleep on because that’s what they can afford to do and at least it gives them a roof over their head,” Selo said.

Leaders of Community Services Agency in Mountain View have also seen a growing number of families in need. CSA supports families in Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Recently the organization helped teachers provide eye glasses for students at Los Altos High School.

“The perception is it is an affluent area, and it is, but there are pockets of poverty,” said Maureen Wadiak, associate director at CSA.

Local agencies provide food pantry assistance, housing help and other services to needy families. To volunteer or donate, contact West Valley Community Services or Community Services Agency directly.

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