Here’s food for thought: Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz, said it best: There’s no place like home . . . Assuming you can afford one.
Silicon Valley housing costs are back to a tipping point – with 3 of every 4 workers unable to afford the average price of a home. Such is a recent finding from our “Silicon Valley Competitiveness & Innovation Project,” full data released here.
Our region’s unaffordable housing costs are not limited to lower-wage workers. Employees with a STEM-based degree, those in Computer and Mathematical occupations, earn a median salary of $121,000 a year. That makes a rental home possible, but still places more than half of the Silicon Valley’s workforce outside of the range to afford a for-sale home.
Do our high housing costs truly impact our economy? On Tuesday, I met with a Leadership Group member company CEO and he mentioned a recent difficult decision to add jobs in another state rather than here in Silicon Valley, and the biggest factor was the high cost of housing for his workers. On the same day, another top company executive shared a similar story – that due to the high cost of homes, it is less expensive for his company to have many of his employees live in another state. Two different companies, in two different sectors of our economy, with the same suboptimal solution to our high housing costs . . . are deciding to locate employees and jobs in other states.
Long-term, this is not good for the future of Silicon Valley. We need thoughtful solutions for workers to live in the same communities in which they work. Future blog posts will focus on specific ways in which we can ensure that Silicon Valley isn’t just the home of cutting-edge technology; but that it also remains the home of our workers and their families driving that technology.
As CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, I have spent countless evenings at City Council hearings across the valley to voice support for more homes near transit, jobs and services. It doesn’t matter what city I’m in, I often hear the same concerns.
This debate is currently underway in Palo Alto over Measure D, an affordable housing proposal for seniors on the Nov. 5 ballot. There, a nonprofit developer won approval to build 60 affordable apartments along with 12 single family homes.
The Council’s unanimous approval of the proposal reflects the understanding that affordable housing for seniors is sorely needed. Thanks to modern technology, people are living much longer and as a result, seniors will continue to make up a much greater share of our overall population. The proposal is close to El Camino Real and the types of transit and businesses that are needed by our aging population. In addition, the affordable housing proposal directs growth in an environmentally sustainable manner, building within our cities instead of suburban sprawl.
Palo Alto needs affordable homes for our senior citizens. Urge your friends and family in Palo Alto to vote yes on Measure D.
“There’s No Place Like Home.”
That phrase is more than just a great line from the film classic, The Wizard of Oz.
In Silicon Valley, it also reflects the enduring work of a quiet yet effective group of grassroots leaders called the Housing Action Coalition.
Last week, the Housing Action Coalition celebrated its 20th Anniversary of advocacy for well-built, appropriately located, affordable rental and for-sale homes for Silicon Valley workers and their families.
And what a 20 years it has been. Consider the numbers. In just 20 years, the Coalition has:
- Endorsed 229 affordable home proposals.
- Those thoughtful developments represent 65,059 new home opportunities.
- 179 of those developments have been approved, built and occupied.
- 27 more have been approved and are currently being built.
- Less than 11 percent were rejected or dropped.
More than just homes, the Housing Action Coalition advocates for developments with nearby transit options, neighborhood services and safe communities.
Due to their efforts, tens of thousands of families can utter that famous phrase, “There’s No Place Like Home.”
To learn more about the Housing Action Coalition, visit the Silicon Valley Leadership Group website at svlg.org.