As you drive along the highways and inner roads of the Bay Area, the juxtaposition is jarring. Tall office buildings with bright company logos shine onto dilapidated tents and shelters unfit for anyone to stay in. With the continued expansion of high tech companies, the problem of wealth disparity intensifies. However, in order to understand this cycle of income inequality, we must first understand the full situation in Silicon Valley.
It’s no secret that the Bay Area is expensive to live in; it contains more than half of the priciest cities in the United States. This cost is an effect of the many start-ups and global companies—such as Apple, Google, and Facebook—that call it home. Over time, it’s become known as a global center for technological innovation. Because of this connotation, more people are immigrating to the city, and the housing prices continue to grow. This lack of affordable housing pushes many people who don’t have an “ideal Bay Area job” toward homelessness. Meanwhile, the upper management of companies continues to sweep up the increasing profits. The high housing cost is a big reason why the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
Although there are cheaper alternatives of housing in the Bay Area—neighborhoods such as Vallejo and Santa Rosa—those come at a cost as well. With poorer neighborhoods come more poorly funded schools, leading to a lack of sufficient education for children living in that area. A sub-par education makes it more challenging for residents to succeed further down the road, and students find it impossible to pursue learning when they could support a family instead. Generations of families unable to emigrate from the Bay Area only propel the growing wealth disparity.
There seems to be no end to the plethora of problems that come with the success of the Bay Area, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help. With this inherent societal issue comes the responsibility for us to understand the root of the wealth disparity issue in Silicon Valley. In addition, there are many opportunities to volunteer in nearby underprivileged communities, to donate necessary goods (food, clothes, personal hygiene products), and to join local organizations that spread awareness. Although the wealth disparity in the Bay Area doesn’t seem to have an end in sight, it’s important that we do all that we can to help.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.