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More Than One-Third of Schoolchildren Are Homeless In Shadow of Silicon Valley ( 504

Alastair Gee writes via The Guardian about Palo Alto's problem with homeless children. Palo Alto is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, yet "slightly more than one-third of students (1,147 children) are defined as homeless here, mostly sharing homes with other families because their parents cannot afford one of their own, and also living in RVs and shelters." From the report: The circumstances of the crisis are striking. Little more than a strip of asphalt separates East Palo Alto from tony Palo Alto, with its startups, venture capitalists, Craftsman homes and Whole Foods. East Palo Alto has traditionally been a center for African American and Latino communities. Its suburban houses are clustered on flat land by the bay, sometimes with no sidewalks and few trees, but residents say the town boasts a strong sense of cohesion. Yet as in the rest of Silicon Valley, the technology economy is drawing new inhabitants and businesses -- the Facebook headquarters is within Ravenswood's catchment area -- and contributing to dislocation as well as the tax base. "Now you have Caucasians moving back into the community, you have Facebookers and Googlers and Yahooers," said Pastor Paul Bains, a local leader. "That's what's driven the cost back up. Before, houses were rarely over $500,000. And now, can you find one under $750,000? You probably could, but it's a rare find." Several homeless families whose children attend local schools told the Guardian that they had considered moving to cheaper real estate markets, such as the agricultural Central Valley, but there were no jobs there. One man shares a single room with three children, in a house where three other families each have a room. Another woman lives with her partner and five children in a converted garage. Even teachers are not immune to such difficulties. Ten of the staff who work on early education programs -- one-third of the total -- commute two or more hours each way a day because they cannot find housing they can afford.
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More Than One-Third of Schoolchildren Are Homeless In Shadow of Silicon Valley

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  • Uh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2016 @08:30PM (#53568807)
    ...a valley is a low point geographically. It doesn't have a shadow.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2016 @08:33PM (#53568833)

    ... defined as homeless here, mostly sharing homes ...

    So they do have homes, even if they aren't necessarily the most comfortable ones. That's a big difference from not having any sort of a home at all, which is what homelessness really is.

    I mean, where does this sort of they-have-homes-but-they're-"homeless" mindset stop?

    What if a single family lives in a house, but there are only 4 bedrooms and there are 5 kids, with some of the kids sharing a room? Are the kids who have to share a room considered "bedroomless" under this strange definition of the term?

    If a home only has 2 bathrooms, but more than 2 occupants, does that mean that whoever lives there is "bathroomless" because they have to share the 2 bathrooms?

    • Entitled Ass (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2016 @08:51PM (#53568947)

      "sharing homes" doesn't mean "splitting rent", it means "crashing until you get thrown out because you can't pay rent." or "crashing until the landlord realizes there are 8 people living in a 2 bedroom apartment". You just happen to be such a pompous, entitled ass that you can't envision sharing homes as anything other than you and your buddies in college splitting rent. Go fuck yourself.

    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2016 @08:51PM (#53568949)

      R moving into the whitehouse. So, as is tradition, 'homelessness' just became a much bigger problem.

    • by fyzikapan ( 1223238 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2016 @08:58PM (#53568999) Homepage
      That's always the problem with these sorts of statistics. Whoever is crunching the numbers is doing so with an agenda and comes up with something that strains credulity. They're just going for shock value, not attempting to convey any useful information. Ultimately it detracts from the real problem. Housing throughout the bay area is, in fact, incredibly expensive. It strains the budgets of pretty much everyone who isn't bringing home six figures, and even 100k isn't enough to afford a nice place. To get even a small condo, you need a couple people making fairly high salaries. The situation in the bay area is not sustainable, but I fail to see how a shock headline claiming 1/3 of school children are living under bridges in cardboard boxes does anything to change that.
    • From the article: "One man shares a single room with three children, in a house where three other families each have a room." So it's not "4 bedrooms and 5 kids" (which would indicate maybe seven people across four bedrooms), more like a minimum of 11 people across three bedrooms (given if the other rooms are single parents with a single child). If it's the "American average" (two parents, two kids), then it's 16 people in 3 bedrooms. That's 3x "population density" of your example.

      The official definiti []
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      By that same definition a work camp would be a home. You know where you throw and contain the homeless and send work details to pick them up to carry out the required duties and then compulsorily return them at the end of the work day, so they can receive their food ration and retire to their cells to rest for the next days duties. Those that don't work get half rations. Once they have paid off their accrued debts they can pay for their release from the work camp, if they can prove they have a place to go.

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      Unfortunately pretty much everyone uses bogus statistics because it benefits them to have shock value to the casual viewer. To make it worse, it also benefits news sites to publish these statistics because they will have high click-through thus you should never believe any statistic that benefits the surveyor even if they describe their methodology.
    • My dad's family lived in a SoCal chicken coop when he was very young. His father was employed digging potatoes. Poor people are not a new phenomenon. In the end, it doesn't matter all that much whether we call them homeless or poor, unless you're trying to make a better headline.

      We're always going to have poor people, but I don't necessarily think this is a terrible thing, nor by any mean something that can be "fixed". What's most important is making sure that people have opportunities to pull themselve

      • by quenda ( 644621 )

        My dad's family lived in a SoCal chicken coop when he was very young. His father was employed digging potatoes.

        Ohhhh we used to DREAM of livin' in chicken coop! Woulda' been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woken up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us!

  • by whitelabrat ( 469237 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2016 @08:37PM (#53568855)

    Living conditions there are awful. There are plenty of jobs in other cities and you get to have a whole house! I figure I'd have to make three times what I make now to live in Silicon Valley. Nope.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Pete Smoot ( 4289807 )

      Living conditions there are awful. There are plenty of jobs in other cities and you get to have a whole house!

      I just read an article (sadly, I can't remember where) talking about this. One of the differences today from yesteryear is people don't move to where the jobs are as much as they did in the past. That's odd because we're, on a whole, much wealthier than we were before 1900, when it was pretty common to pack up all your belongings in a wagon, abandon your land, and move west. Or have a mass migration from farms to cities throughout most of the 20th century.

      Well, I assume it was common. I actually don't have

      • people don't move to where the jobs are as much as they did in the past.

        Great Grandpa didn't get a choice on where to live when the CCC sent him around the country building up infrastructure (which we're in need of right now). Grandpa didn't get a choice when the US government said he was going to "mork" with some Germans. Dad didn't get a choice when the US said he was going to "Work" in Asia.

        If my wife and I lost our jobs and house tomorrow I would have no problem raising our kid in an RV. I feel like a lot of these situations are "I want to ____ to earn money" and people are

    • It's the NIMBYs. The ratio of building permits to new jobs created (in San Francisco) is 1 to 8.
  • by david.emery ( 127135 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2016 @08:51PM (#53568945)

    I heard a piece on NPR (which unfortunately I can't find a link for), that observed if you paid over $500k for your house 20 years ago, your house appreciated more than 100%, and if you paid less than $200k, it only appreciated 25%. Further analysis discussed that the great preponderance of such houses were on the coasts, and that affordability in those communities is a real problem . They also correlated the house price with how the people voted, noting that Trump voters were more likely to have houses in the $100k-$200k range rather than the $500k range, and that was presumed to be part of the dissatisfaction with the state of the economy.

    Now putting these stories together, -I- come to the conclusion that high cost areas such as Silicon Valley are much more likely to support abstract notions of income redistribution, with the sense that "I have mine, so now I can feel bad about income inequality."

    • 100% over 20 years is not particularly high if anything it is rather sedate, 25% though is very low. that is less than 1.25% on the 25% and only around 3.5% per annum on the high end houses.
    • The $500k homes are expensive because they're on prime real estate. The $100k-$200k homes are for the large part identical to the $500k homes, they're just in less desirable locations.

      There is plenty of open land in the U.S. You can always build more cheap homes in less desirable locations (unless your city has done something like silly like created no-build open space preserves [] in all possible surrounding areas where new housing could've been built to ease demand). That's why they don't appreciate mu
    • by mvdwege ( 243851 )
      You haven't been paying attention. Silicon Valley is the home of the stereotypical Libertarian douchebro: "I got mine, I want more, you got nothing, sucks to be you!".
  • Where I'm from, those children would be wards of the state; any parents "not providing adequate food, medical care, or shelter" get their kids taken away, and are charged with Neglect. As to the 'shelter' part, that's entirely up to the CPS caseworker, and if they don't feel that it's adequate to have two siblings sharing a room, that's enough probable cause to take the children and open an investigation (in that order.) A whole family in one room? Never.
    Go ahead, ask me how I know. I had no idea Cali
    • Where is the state going to stick the kids they take away from their parents? It's not a case of a few parents failing to bother adequately providing for their children, it's a case of the whole goddamn state being priced out of existence. Section 8 housing has years-long waitlists, elderly and disabled people who can't make the rent on their social security incomes just go homeless or at best end up crammed 3-4 people to a bedroom in "room and board" houses that take almost the entirety of their income for

  • Dangerous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2016 @09:11PM (#53569051)
    The wealth gap is to large and no matter how one sees it it is dangerous. I once lived in an area that was well off but bordered a ghetto. I warned people that between 12/15 and Christmas day they had best not be out and about. A certain pre Christmas rage would build up in the poor area and armed robberies and the like would jump up too much in that two week period. Simply shopping or sitting in a restaurant or bar, or even being tied up in traffic became an opportunity for being a crime victim. Sometimes some horrible racist incident would occur and people would fear riots. If it happened on a Monday or Tuesday one could predict that the troubles would break out on Friday or Saturday as pay checks would enable alcohol to be purchased and the weekend would be the time to riot. Certain things are predictable and when the rich are too rich and the poor are too poor violence tends to break out.
  • RV? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I have lived in an RV for the past 15 years. I lived in an RV for 3 years in the 70s. The first two were only 21 feet in length. I have a nice 36 foot motor home the I live in now. I have never paid a dime for any city property taxes. It just breaks my heart that I was never indentured to a bank for 30 years paying for a regular home and then indentured to a city for my entire life paying property taxes. It has been tough, but I have managed to tough it out. It has especially been a burden watching m

    • And how much did it cost and what else do you invest in? I looked at living on a canal boat a few years back, but the cost of a comfortable one was about the same as the deposit on a house and was a depreciating asset. The house was an appreciating asset.
  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2016 @09:36PM (#53569203) Journal

    reinstate child labor. let the market decide. we need to get the government off the backs of the American people. It's the libertarian thing to do.

  • Rent Control (Score:2, Informative)

    by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
    What a terrible article. Sharing rooms does not make one homeless and East Palo Alto is not Palo Alto, it's two different cities with different demographics and different rules. A big chunk of East Palo Alto is under rent control, so those people will be paying rent that's far below market price for years to come. I wonder how many of them are sharing rooms because it's a good source of income and not because they can't afford it.
    • A big chunk of East Palo Alto is under rent control, so those people will be paying rent that's far below market price for years to come.

      It's worth pointing out that rent control and building restrictions are the primary cause of high rents. Start issuing building permits for high-density high-rise housing and the market will naturally produce affordable rents. I don't know about East Palo Alto, but in many areas with rent controls there is an exemption for "luxury" apartments, which motivates landlords to build those rather than more affordable housing -- and even to tear down rent-controlled housing so they can build luxury apartments.


  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2016 @10:47PM (#53569521)

    And, as a Democrat, I ashamed to say he is not wrong. I am sure residents of Palo Alto would rather have some manufacturing jobs than our "great values". We need to fire demagogues and elect someone who will make people love California and trust us to govern on federal level.

  • 3 kids, 5 kids... JFC! Stop cranking out babies!
    Sorry, but it's not like you need them to help with the farming, and it's not like you don't have birth control options.

    Stop. Having. Fucking. Babies.
    • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

      Eugenics is just as ugly now as it was a hundred years ago. You're also ignoring the fact that some of those families used to be middle class before a job loss or a bad event made them poor. And funding for basic reproductive health care is denied or cut, frequently by the same people who then whine about poor people having babies.

      • "...frequently by the same people who then whine about poor people having babies."

        Oh, wait, I'm embarrassed that I let someone think I'm a conservative. The threat of Planned Parenthood losing funding under a Trump administration makes my blood boil.

        I'm opposed to large families more from an environmental angle. There are already too damn many people all up in my grill wherever I go, and I live in a rural community. Eugenics? Please. Rich white people having large families is just as annoying to me as poor
  • "More Than One-Third of Schoolchildren Are Homeless In Shadow of Silicon Valley"

    Since only 1.3% of the school children in the country live in Silicon Valley, I guess you could technically argue the other 98.7% are homeless there.

  • by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Thursday December 29, 2016 @01:53AM (#53570071) Journal

    Link here:

    The ratio of new jobs to new building permits is 8:1.

  • by taylorius ( 221419 ) on Thursday December 29, 2016 @04:24AM (#53570411) Homepage

    You would think that of all businesses, high tech software might enable its workers to work remotely from another part of the country, and sidestep the inevitable housing price bubbles.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday December 29, 2016 @07:55AM (#53570855) Homepage

    In the land of $4500 a month rent for a crackhouse that is currently on fire what do they expect? People are living in VANS in the office parking lot.

  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Thursday December 29, 2016 @10:56AM (#53571711) Homepage Journal

    "slightly more than one-third of students (1,147 children) are defined as homeless here, mostly sharing homes with other families because their parents cannot afford one of their own

    When most people hear the word 'homeless' they imagine people living outdoors, maybe spending some nights in homeless shelters, but the majority of 'homeless' children described in this report have home to return to, they are just sharing their home with another family...

    Is a 30 year-old living in his parents house 'homeless'? By the standards of this report the answer is 'yes', but to most people the answer is 'no'.

I THINK THEY SHOULD CONTINUE the policy of not giving a Nobel Prize for paneling. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.