Silicon Valley Job Boom Creates Housing Crisis, Advocates Say

Silicon Valley is in the grip of a housing crisis that is affecting both the poor and those with good jobs, according to housing advocates.

Housing Trust Silicon Valley reports that 44,000 new jobs were created in the region last year. However, the report also says there were only 8,000 available homes in the Silicon Valley, which has driven up housing prices due to the critical demand.

"We have an affordable housing crisis in the Bay Area, but we also have just a housing crisis," said Housing Trust's CEO Kevin Zwick. "We need more housing for people at all different income levels."

New apartment developments are also going up across Silicon Valley, but software engineers who live in the new developments say recruiters never warned them about the high cost of living in the valley.

"You don't have many options," said Madhav Shree, a software developer for Cisco. "If you live here, you have to pay for it."

Shree pays $1,300 a month for a single room in a shared apartment in a San Jose complex.

"It's expensive," Shree said.

The Housing Trust said the crisis is harming poor and middle-income earners the most because they can't afford to live in the new developments popping up in the region that developers are building with wealthier residents in mind.

"This isn't housing that's going to house our retail workers, our service sector workers, someone on fixed income, people with special needs," Zwick said. "That housing is just not getting built."

The agency said the abolishment of redevelopment agencies eliminated all the cash for affordable housing projects.

But the Housing Trust says there is one solution to the crisis: a fee assessed to developers of new luxury and market rate housing developments.

The Housing Trust says other cities like Fremont and San Diego already impose what's called a “residential impact fee." That fee then goes to fund affordable housing.

San Jose and Sunnyvale are currently kicking around the idea, but some local lawmakers fear it could scare off the developers.

The Housing Trust says an impact fee would provide most of the funds needed to build all the affordable housing San Jose needs.

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