Homeless in High Tech’s Shadow

April 5, 2013

California’s Silicon Valley is a microcosm of America’s new extremes of wealth and poverty. Business is better than it’s been in a decade, with companies like Facebook, Google and Apple minting hundreds of new tech millionaires. But not far away, the homeless are building tent cities along a creek in the city of San Jose. Homelessness rose 20 percent in the past two years, food stamp participation is at a 10-year high, and the average income for Hispanics, who make up a quarter of the area’s population, fell to a new low of about $19,000 a year — in a place where the average rent is $2000 a month.

As this week’s Moyers & Company remembers Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy in economic justice as well as civil rights, we visit Silicon Valley to bring you this story about modern-day poverty and inequality. We talk to Cindy Chavez of Working Partnerships USA; Russell Hancock of Joint Venture Silicon Valley; Martha Mendoza, an AP writer whose recent piece about Silicon Valley poverty brought this story to our attention; Daniel Garcia, who became homeless after losing his job in a Google campus restaurant; and Teresa Frigge, a homeless woman who used to make the silicon chips that give the valley its name.

Producer/Editor: Lauren Feeney. Producer/Camera: Cameron Hickey.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/betty.o.scully Betty O’Hara Scully

    I’m glad to hear all is well financially speaking in SV; I’m sure they’ll think of ways to really help the homeless…they just need reminding.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.susoreny Gregory Susoreny

    I can envision camps to re-educate and re-integrate such as these–yet there would be Constitutional issues, to be sure. So, where are the non-for-profits? Where are the real solutions from the private sector?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003205057948 Bee Queen

    Sadly I think we will find that it is out of sight, out of mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MKarnakz Gina de Miranda

    CAMPS? CAMPS? Yeah, let’s try to emulate a more horrendous paradigm…the Nazis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MKarnakz Gina de Miranda

    Uh, I don’t think so. I met a guy who had just made $300 million on a public offering in Sili Valley. He spent an hour telling me how he set up all his holdings offshore to avoid US taxes.

  • Mark Hobbs

    The economic problems we face are systemic to a system in which the very rich all making all the gains while the majority of people are losing wealth and the poor are getting poorer with increasing numbers falling into poverty. No amount of “good will” or non-profits helping the poor will change the fundamental root problem of an economic system that favors the very rich to the detriment of everyone else. Change will only take place when citizens demand true economic change.

    Check out this video, Wealth Inequality in America, to see how our economy is truly operating:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patricia-Stidham-Burns/100003119369128 Patricia Stidham-Burns

    I lived in San Jose when it was thriving! It was a great place to live. Then it became so expensive to live there after 50 years I had to move! We went to Portland OR area and we like it here. It’s beautiful. But I can’t help but miss San Jose…the way it was!

  • Bertie

    Here’s a bit of biting sarcasm in the link below regarding the indifference and even dismissive approach Silicon Valley high-tech industry/ affluence has had for less-affluent non-tech county residents. This division has been building for the past decade, while homelessness here has steadily increased. It’s not just the homeless here, it’s also the nearly homeless. In 2006, the “richer, more powerful” northern towns of Santa Clara County voted on a county-wide initiative that would have essentially “taken” the lands of the non-techie southern rural residents, including the county’s farmers, vintners, and ranchers (Santa Clara County includes Silicon Valley, stretches for 60-70 miles). This initiative, the 2006 Measure A, hoped to severely limit the use of rural privately owned Silicon Valley lands, with the objective of essentially “taking” these lands as open space without so much as paying a dime to the less-affluent land owners. Not a dime. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group (an association representing the high tech industry) and residents of north county affluence strongly supported the initiative —without any remedy of tax revenues to pay for these lands, or compensation for conservancy easements. Just a stark, cold, easy taking. Fortunately it didn’t pass by a margin of 1%. Extreme affluence in Silicon Valley has clouded perspective –the reality and needs of those less privileged are being callously minimized.

    http://www.siliconvalleytruthinessbureau.blogspot.com/2006/10/truthiness-of-measure.html

  • Bertie

    Please note, the link provided was a tongue-in-cheek essay about the skewed perspective of Silicon Valley wealth, intended as satire.

  • Anonymous

    It would be interesting to see what impact all those State and local tax breaks given to these corporations have on local budgets. Just from experience, seeing my company’s headquarters moved the east coast to Southern California, they received huge 10-15 year tax breaks to move. It was a boon for the company but little tax revenue flowed back into the state. Not to mention because of the corporate park style development there wasn’t much growth in local businesses, relocated employees often rented or bought in complexes away from headquarters.

    You can see from other States that often providing huge tax incentives for Corporations to move into their State doesn’t help the bottom line if there’s no long term quid pro quo in revenues or return to the community.

  • http://www.facebook.com/suzann.fulbright Suzann Fulbright

    I was in my early twenties when this trend began, with Ronald Reaganomics to be more precise. I have spent my whole life arguing, fighting this trend. I have been ignored, spat on, marginalized and even ridiculed by my own family, people who were once a secular people, now themselves willing agents of “good will,” private “charity” and DO nothing. Mine has been a tragic life and I wish that it had not been wasted, that I was born in another land in a better not so futile time, for this place and time will rest near the bottom of the slime barrel of the history of human civilization.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Golden-Cockroach/100002851519994 Golden Cockroach

    Our small community of 22,000, Pottstown, Pa., seated in Montgomery County, #51 on the list of wealthiest counties in the nation, is also a microcosm of disparity.

    The wealthy continue to buy income properties to rent to the very poor, the voucher recipients, mentally ill, disabled, drug addicted and homeless. Upper middle-class, mostly white communities are unscathed, perhaps mostly unaware as the very poor are enabled and encouraged to find their way here, to a community ill equipped to meet their needs, let alone the working homeowners and fixed-income retirees barely cling to self-reliance, while many lose their homes.

    Historically minimal oversight by gov’t agencies from HUD on down have left people and their children living in deplorable, unhealthy, unsafe conditions, one slumlord away from homelessness.

    Once homeless, we have no shelter. Local churches scramble to meet the need. The mentally ill wander aimlessly while drug dealers await their next customers among those who have no job, no purpose, no home and no hope.

    While we struggle to find our way, volunteering untold hours to make a difference, paying higher taxes to educate the children, never making headway. The challenges compound, one on top of the other. Federal, State and County polices work against our efforts as more and more people in need are sent here, out of sight out of mind.

    We ask ourselves how the wealthy continue to prosper from our struggles. We wonder if anyone really sees us or if we’ve become a sacrificial lamb for our wealthy county, a municipal waste site for the people they regard as disposable.

  • Tom Joad’sDaughter

    since when did housing become an optional expense? raise corporate taxes, and if they try to move offshore, nail them for being a foreign corporation. We should stop blaming the victims and fix the problem…

  • Anonymous

    GET CONGRESS TO PASS EARNED INCOME CREDIT FOR THESE PEOPLE! THIS IS NOT WELFARE IT IS EARNED INCOME I KNOW IT WORKS UNDER CLINTON I GOT IT AS A SINGLE MOTHER WORKING AND IT WAS A GOD SEND! I WORKED HARD AND I EARNED LESS THEN MINIMUM WAGE. THIS ALL GOES TO THE EXTREMELY UNJUST, DISTORTED EXTORTION OF THE POOR VIA THE SKEWED TAX LOOP HOLE, CORRUPTED, MANIPULATED CAPITALISM NOW DESTROYING ALL! IT WILL GET TO THE RICH TOO! RICH PEOPLE MAY BELIEVE IN THEIR HEART OF HEARTS THAT THEY WILL BE EXCLUDED FROM THE EVER GROWING POOR BUT THEY WILL NOT! HIGHER LAWS WILL NOT EXCLUDED ANYONE. STOP THE SELFISH, SELF ABSORBED CONSCIOUSNESS NOW! UNTIL YOU GET OFF HERE AND GO TO http://www.house.gov and tell BOEHNER, CANTOR, RYAN AND SENATOR MITCHELL THE CON IS UP THEY WILL CONTINUE TO BE ADDICTED TO BRIBES FROM CORPORATIONS LIKE BIG OIL, FB, GOOGLE, APPLE WHO PRETEND TO BE OF THE PEOPLE BUT THEY ARE OFF EXPLOITING FOR THE SAKE OF GREED NOT FOR THE SAKE OF TRULY DEMANDING THAT THESE SCUM IN CONGRESS DELIVER TO THE GOD OF JUSTICE AND TRUTH!

  • Anonymous
  • Guest

    Maybe Gates and Zuckerman, et.al, could address this on a more personal level. :0 Damn corporations!

  • Thetruth

    And I shot hoops with Obama 2 weeks ago.

  • Anonymous

    John is making a reasonable business. He sees a way to make more, if only the law were different. He pays to have the law changed. He makes more money. He sees a way to make more, if only the taxes were different. He pays to have taxes changed so he pays less tax. He makes more money. He sees a way to make more if he can pay his employees less. He pays to have the law changed so he can pay them less. He makes more money. He finds ways over and over to change the rules in his favour so he becomes richer and richer at the expense of people who cannot pay to have the law changed.

  • Phil Wolff

    It’s just accounting, Brian. If you want to go on a cash basis, John would have to pay directly for everything his society did to make his building a company possible. His public school education without any subsidy. The public health system that prevented epidemics. Drinking and bathing water at commercial/industrial market rates. Public safety including his own army, navy, police, and fire services. Each foot of road and sidewalk that he’s ever walked on or ridden over.

    All before he gets to build his company.

    The transaction costs alone would chill John’s ability to function long before he’d ever think about his own business.

    So maybe John should pay up his accumulated debt to society, pay for the debt his parents accrued before him, pay for the debt his customers owe, before whining.

  • Debra

    I have also been watching this happen since my early twenties! Suzann you are correct…I have been actively screaming at the top of my lungs to get people to wake up and see what was going on in this country…Now we (daughter, daughters husband, grand children, my husband and myself) all live in the same house..My husband and myself make the house payment, insurance, property tax and heat. My daughter takes care of the house and her children, My daughters husband takes care of the groceries, electric and phone. This is how we have decided to make it in this crazy world. We plant a garden every year. We are luckier than a lot of people because we inherited half of this home. We work at a casino. Thank you addicted rich gamblers for the job! Without you we would not be able to do this.

  • Anonymous

    Up until the early 1990′s there was always good cheap housing for kids just out of college and making their way in the world. Not so anymore. They now have to go back to mom & dad, if they are around, so that they can afford to pay for student loans. I used to feel badly for my Brit friends who usually lived at home until they married and thus had a double income. And these were people with good jobs. OMG! We’ve turned into the colonizers.

  • Guest

    No, there will be no “innovation” of addressing nor solving homelessness in SV. I live here, was born here, and personally know the mindset of the “leaders” of these silicon(MIC) behemoths. The “free market” Randian mindset runs very deep here (ie Apple’s Foxconn;) and mantras like competition take on militarist zeal against their supposed competitors (ie monopolist ideologues that promote mass unemployment for competitive cost cutting edge.) Further, from “negotiating” tax avoidance strategies with counties/cities/states, to offshoring wealth (whether corporate or individual,) these “leaders” have no interest in anyone but their own wealth and power to wield as they choose and demand. http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10017

    BTW-That “tent city” shown is gone now. Why? Because it was just south of the SJ Norman Mineta Airport, and was causing the City of San Jose to “look bad” to corporate reps arriving from Seychelles, Isle of Man, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and The Caymans (just to name a few offshore havens.) http://www.salon.com/2013/03/10/homeless_in_the_silicon_valley_partner/

  • FFS

    Yeah, because giving the homeless some food and a place to live makes us Nazis for using the word “camps.” By that logic my summer CAMP as a kid was hell.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been in technology for over 30 years, but in SoCal. About 10 years ago I remember driving through San Jose and seeing all the billboards advertising microprocessors and other computer components all over the place. Not the finished computers. The parts that go into computers. That’s when I knew I could never live in San Jose. I’d end up committing suicide if my work was following me everyplace I turned outside of work.

  • John Smith

    something no one mentions and what I believe to be the root problem of expensive housing is URBAN PLANNING. SV has plenty of space and if not for extreme zoning laws, that space could be used to develop apartment housing complexes – something that’s all over north NYC. Overabundance of housing WILL lower housing costs for sure.

  • Reynaud

    But what about “Hope and Change”? Corporations and the military don’t seem to be hurting. But California’s public schools are close to dead last in the nation in terms of spending per pupil. Maybe voting out all incumbants, every election, is the only way to do get actual change without enlisting knee-capping teams roaming the parking garages of the 1%ers and sharing their successes on YouTube.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Claire-Lukawski-Felong/1459092363 Claire Lukawski Felong

    It may be too little too late but cities such as Redwood City do have master plans that encourage mixed use development- businesses at street level, residences above and are encouraging them along transit corridors so that public transit is a viable option for many (transit-oriented development -TOD). There are 3 of these currently being built (about 600 residential units in the next 6 mos-2years).

  • http://twitter.com/Kevin_byDesign Kevin byDesign

    In my experience as a homeless teenager; sleeping under bridges was the most dangerous & uncomfortable place to choose. It tends to be very breezy and open to unsafe cross traffic. Crawl spaces under buildings, if you can find them, are safer, protected from the weather. If you have to be outside; a flat roof on a commercial building works pretty well. The juxtapose of wealth in Silicon Valley & homeless people cuts across all ethnic lines.

  • frankigee

    If this is Coyote Creek, it’s 4 doors down the street from me. I think the encampment is a few miles downstream. San Jose residents have seen a dramatic decrease in police and are battening down the hatches. Theft is on the rise and although no homeless seem to be responsible, their presence is perceived as increased threat instead of neighbors that need our compassion. I’ve been to neighborhood meetings, one recent one with a homeless liaison person who told us giving things to them is “enabling”. The nearest church to my area closed their “Hannah’s Closet”-I think it was a free thrift store. Now they have batting cages. I’m a coupon-er and have many things I could donate but getting them to the homeless has been difficult. I can drive several miles to the nearest shelter, but this doesn’t help my homeless neighbors.

  • Chris Gillespie

    the simple reality is that the united states is becoming the most UN-christian nation in the world. if Jesus came back he would send in Michael for some big time smiting! i personally do not believe in such fairy tales, however the ideals that were supposedly put forth by this Jesus character make the utmost sense… TAKE CARE OF THE POOR AND THE SICK AND WEAK!!!!

    and as i am a foreigner from a strange “socialist land” called “canadia” is will also throw in that HEALTH CARE IS A BASIC BLOODY HUMAN RIGHT!!!!!

    and before anybody slams me. i live and work in silicon valley and pay taxes. and let me tell you, even making “good” money it is harder and harder to make ends meet.

    if we do not take care of our own, it will be the downfall of us all.

  • Psquare

    This is the 1930s all over again. However, In those days it was a problem that could not be covered up or ignored. In the modern world big corporate interests have managed to focus the attention on themselves and away from the plight of the working man as if solving the problem means treating corporations as people. Thank you Alito. Thank you Reagan. (actually, I don’t think this is what he had in mind – he was a decent man from another era) Thank you George W. Bush. Thank you Obama. There is no longer a true liberal class in America and we refuse to deal with the reasons for why there are poor. (Jackson Browne – “Rebel Jesus”)

  • Tedr 53 Montreal, Canada

    So Sad in a country that used to be the best…..
    “the Decline of the American Empire” is upon us.

  • King

    Consequence of bogus economey based on hyper inflated real estate and Feds money printing machine. Things will get far worse than this until a change happens peacefully or bloody time will tell.

  • http://twitter.com/jamenta John Amenta

    The inevitable results when corporate greed becomes more important than human life and other human values.

  • Flarph

    Spot on! The Fed is printing $1 trillion a year in QE and this hot money flows unevenly through our economy – most everyone knows that Wall Street benefits whilst Main Street languishes. All of this funny money creation flows like effluent from a sewer pipe primarily to Wall Street (Manhattan), the Nation’s Capital (DC) and Silicon Valley. Hence, the distortions we see in those local economies (especially high real estate prices). This wealth is nothing but an illusion based upon DEBT / CDO’s etc and this frothy bubble of all bubbles will end poorly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carolyn.m.scott Carolyn Scott

    Deeper still, are the core issues and corrupt system of capitalism – which has zero connection to the land (Nature). In the end, as Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmentalist (Wangari Muta Maathai) said;

    “The laws of nature do not debate with humanity…”
    ~ Wangari Muta Maathai

  • http://www.facebook.com/carolyn.m.scott Carolyn Scott

    i highly recommend the film HEIST: Who Stole The American Dream? – it looks at the doctrines put into place by the top 6 wealthy american capitalist (including the Koch brothers) and handed to Reagan to implement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carolyn.m.scott Carolyn Scott

    I don’t think it so much printing as much buying Banks toxic assets (bad mortgages) – clearing the sheets – so the folks who got 2 mortgages can no longer prosecute the banks for wrong doing. I highly recommend the film HEIST: Who Stole The American Dream? – it
    looks at the doctrines put into place by the top 6 wealthy American
    capitalists (including the Koch brothers) and handed to Reagan to
    implement.

  • Janice Tufte

    In King County WA, home of Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Vulcan and more professional sports teams than about any other County in the Nation has 8,500 homeless on any given night; 5,000 are in shelter of some sort. Most astounding number is 26,000 school students K-12 are homeless in this wealthy land of plenty state.

  • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.miles3 Suzanne Miles

    Suzann Fulbright: If your family is the source of Fulbright grants, I can understand your despair. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of our times; how can we fight this legal, organized and all-powerful theft of our world?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kaye.walden Kaye Walden

    I would like to see every homeless person (including living in a car) to flock to the streets on a specific day to show the town how many are really out there. they are not all dirty and look like a substance abuser.

  • Jake

    The most affluent have never paid lower taxes in their history. The disparity between the haves and the have nots has never been greater, yet there very top continually cries for more tax breaks or they will take their football and their football field elsewhere. Even the great guilded age of the 1890′s was a more equitable period in history, and they dripped in gold back than. The largest of american corporations, GE, Boeing, Pepsi, etc pay no corporate taxes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dryheaves.daily Dryheaves Daily

    I would like to think you would share this film. read the verbiage at the bottom. The film is heartbreaking. I would also like to think that you would want your friends to share this film. This is becoming the new America. Almost 50 percent in poverty. Please share the film. http://www.americanwinterfilm.com/

  • http://www.facebook.com/dryheaves.daily Dryheaves Daily

    GE is also the biggest outsourcer of jobs I believe, followed by IBM

  • http://www.facebook.com/dryheaves.daily Dryheaves Daily

    We live in Bucks county and have traveled through Pottstown not knowing what you speak of but always feeling something different with that town. Just amazing. I am shocked. Bless you for your help.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dryheaves.daily Dryheaves Daily

    And I bet a one bedroom small apartment will be at least 2500 dollars. Cant get an efficiency in a lousy neighborhood for less than 2000 when utilities are added in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dryheaves.daily Dryheaves Daily

    without the QE bs the market would be at least 2,000 points lower

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Golden-Cockroach/100002851519994 Golden Cockroach

    Thanks, we’re doing our best to get our story out to the world. Sometimes its difficult to believe this really is America.

  • 360 View

    You forgot several major components in your “analysis”: Employees of your company in aggregate pay several large taxes which DO benefit your local, state, and federal apparatus. These taxes are known as: income, sales, property, excise, and several others.
    It is both false & disingenuous to say no one other than corporate heads benefits when a company moves to a place with tax breaks.
    Many companies also through goodwill are invested in communities through charity events (publicized or not) and they encourage employees & other companies to join them. I’ve seen MANY examples of greatly positive contribution from companies given tax breaks, and it seems everyone in the area benefits greatly from the arrangements.
    I’m no apologist for corporations and currently am not employed by one, but I do live in reality, I’ve volunteered consistently for decades, and I try to view ALL SIDES of each issue! Our rapidly increasing government over-reach at many levels is what encourages the ill behavior decried on this board & diminishes altruism for many as they feel the increasing crush of government’s bloat.

  • 360 View

    What then is your solution??? I’ll tell you mine – we need to stop running away from the teachings of Christ (e.g. God) and return to application of principles deeply rooted in Him. It is no fairy tale – you need to provide proof of this whopper of an assertion in the face of more verifiable documentation of Christ’s existence than for Caesar or Plato or other contemporary figures.
    As people have stepped away from true wisdom & looked to government to both guide & bail them out, we’ve more rapidly descended into problems and become more dependent on its shifting sand policies.
    If people TRULY did all things unto Christ, you’d see a world radically transformed from what it is today! To do so, one must be a follower of Him to be guided by the Holy Spirit and transformed in mind. There are many who may claim to be followers of Christ, but the Bible clearly states their actions belie their claimed faith. Bad fruit doesn’t come from a sound tree, neither do Godly policies & actions come from a poser.
    Look to Christ for your answers, then let’s see how your actions help the problems you see in the world!

  • 360 View

    Funny you decry spending per pupil. Teachers in my district average over $100K salary per year for 9.5 months of work & have very lucrative pensions which cost more & more each year. The rate of their salary & pension increases has greatly outpaced the national average over the past 10 years.
    While some may say this is warranted since teachers “touch the future”, it’s not sustainable since taxpayers who pay for teachers and curriculum and schools and administrators and equipment and capital and……DO NOT have the resources to keep funding going today let alone future increases. Many home foreclosures were due in part to the increase in already high property taxes. In my district 55% (and growing) of my property tax funds schools, the remaining 45% (and decreasing) covers all other city & local services.
    Spending isn’t the key to successful education, it is only one of the tools. More important are tangible goals, better methods, accountability, and more LOCAL control rather than top-down Common Core Curriculum’s crushing weight! Much more can be done with the resources already possessed by California schools!

  • bertie

    Yes, Kevin, homelessness in Silicon Valley cuts across ethnic lines. Is there a chance you can get to the Wilson Center, or other shelter services in the area? There are a few shelter options for you, especially since you are younger. You can get more info at, including phone number:
    http://www.billwilsoncenter.org/

  • http://www.facebook.com/eileen.newman.31 Eileen Newman

    I understand this problem…

    Last year, I produced a short documentary on Youtube about homelessness that might interest you – one person’s story – http://youtu.be/yFqO5NmyHYQ .

    - Eileen Newman, Documentary Filmmaker

  • Lydeeyah

    So true. We’re all watching and feeling rather helpless in light of the political arena. Like cattle, we’re being led in a downward spiral. :(

  • Lydeeyah

    I agree, not long ago, S.J. seemed to be “thriving”.I moved to Arcata, CA. see young poor on every corner, low wages, etc. Visited Bay Area: huge apt units @ San Antonio/El Camino, M.View…as if an influx on the way. Shiny cars! Increased time at lights; heavy traffic on 280/everywhere. Still fun to be there. Oh! rents insane @ studio $1500, apts $2-3k++. Visits revive the Silly Valley energy in our veins. Yeah for Oregon living!

  • Lydeeyah

    Okay. Maybe that’s what they’re doing in M.View.

  • Lydeeyah

    It is true.

  • Lydeeyah

    Seems to be rampant…spread nationwide; with all who are represented on this page alone. :(

  • Curt Chiarelli

    I lived in Silicon Valley for several years and the one aspect that contributes to this appalling trend – and one that seldom gets mentioned – is the extreme narcissism of the inhabitants of that region. Humans are, by nature, rather selfish creatures, but the socio-economic climate of the SF peninsula seems to metastasize it like a rogue cancer. Should it then surprise anyone that, in a place where no one cares about anyone except themselves, this desperate poverty exists and will continue to grow . . . . in spite of the fact that the resources necessary to resolve it are already there, but will never be implemented?

  • exsilicon

    The problem goes much much deeper than this video reflects. I recently moved out of Silicon Valley because working for one of the big tech companies I was making a little more than $ 100 K a year and it wasn’t a living wage for my family of 4. And no, we didn’t have expensive german cars, we didn’t take frequent vacations and we didn’t have a big house or mortgage.

    The companies get away paying which amounts for low wages compare to the COL because most of the workers are under 30 and prefer to be pennyless but live in the bay area than to start saving for their future.

    I miss the weather and the people every day but I went looking for greener pastures and the skills and mindset that I learned in SV are serving me much better where I am now.

  • dog

    This video seemed too short, it could have really gone into more and had longer interviews etc. It’s very sad tho. How some of those very poor people survive must be such a struggle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rob-Canny/100000203425131 Rob Canny

    I couldn’t agree with you more Suzann. I’m 52. I remember when Ronald Reagan was governor of California and he first brought homelessness here. It was so shocking it has been etched into my memory ever since. Back then (late 60′s) we had some winos on skid-row in downtown LA and the occasional hobo hopping the trains but all of a sudden one day I noticed there were families sleeping in cars and obviously mentally unstable people pushing shopping carts and sleeping on the streets. It made an indelible impression on my young mind. It was really shocking and frightening. Up until then we had had nothing like that in California. We now know Reagan and his neo-liberal economists (who have now brought the world economy to it’s knees) went on to bring that sort of third world homelessness to the rest of America. Trickle-down/union busting/consumerism/mass consumption/tax breaks for the rich/ship jobs overseas. My parents, aunts and uncles went to state university for basically free back then too. Now my younger sister is still paying off her school debt and my older sister died of breast cancer before she could pay hers off while fighting her insurance company for coverage and Social Security Disability for benefits. Our generation was screwed by these mean spirited “greatest generation” assholes. They got the New Deal and the GI Bill and we got the shaft.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lora.kling Lora M Kling

    well said

  • Anonymous

    your over-simplifed view in making corporations the singular problem reinforces my thought that you’re clueless on this topic. Continue buying cheap, cheaper, cheapest, sister — that’s the at the root of the problem. Have you ever run a business yourself? I think you have not, again based on your ill-placed remarks blaming business. It’s a complex problem with many factors contributing to this outcome.

  • Carol

    Corporations want access to our markets (people who are making a living wage because they work for somebody else), but they don’t want to pay taxes to support America’s infrastructure, don’t want to pay for America’s wars, don’t want to pay employees enough to afford health care, housing, and food. They are accountable only to shareholders.

  • Nathan

    More than that, rushing out to buy the latest iPhone helps drive the technological improvements that further reduce the demand for human labor. Remember, there is nothing that a human could do that in theory a computer/robot could not do better. The singularity is coming soon, and we’re all driving it.

  • http://twitter.com/Techivist Miguel Hernandez

    One of the things not mentioned in this ‘teaser’ piece (not the full episode, i know) are things like the recent news where Facebook’s not paying taxes this year on over $1 billion in profits & will even receive a $429 million tax refund. Ya, I get it, the tax code. It’s legit. But what about businesses having a vested interest in helping the communities they reside & do business in? Bottom lines are cool. Double bottom lines are better! http://ctj.org/ctjreports/2013/02/facebooks_multi-billion_dollar_tax_break_executive-pay_tax_break_slashes_income_taxes_on_facebook–.php#.UWNFvqJg-vc

  • Anonymous

    there have ALWAYS been homeless…. you are being way too simplistic!

  • Anonymous

    The American “Dream” was just that… and unsustainable “dream”. This is closer to reality.

  • Anonymous

    if you look at history though… there is no “Main Street” without “Wall Street”. modern society has been shaped by capital markets before there was even “Wall Street”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dryheaves.daily Dryheaves Daily

    same in San Jose and all surrounding areas.Even Places like Fremont and North are getting out of hand. I have been looking. What has driven prices sky high was the foreclosures,also. People moved out of their homes and into apartments causing rates to go up. You cant get more than a 1 year lease and rates go up depending on Market conditions as one property mgmnt company told me and the services are poor even in the beautiful buildings because they dont care . The buildings are full and if you leave there are many behind you waiting to get an your apartment , and expect your car to be broken into in the garage and mgmnt does not care.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LittleDesertFlower.Nuar Nuar Hegrat

    Years ago when I was studying in college I volunteered at Bill Wilson Center. It IS a good place. — Side note: In 3 weeks, if my mother & I can not find affordable housing, we too will be amongst San Jose’s homeless population. (Also note that I am a 34 yr old college educated white female who has ALWAYS had a job since I was 15.. Definately NOT a slacker, a junkie criminal (never even had a speeding ticket even), or a mooch…. Im jst not as fortunate as those who the valley now caters to.) :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/LittleDesertFlower.Nuar Nuar Hegrat

    They have been building housing on every available square inch for the last ten years. I was hoping this would cause prices to fall (especially after the dot.com bubble burst in 2001.. but they dont. in fact the rent in the house that my family has rented for over 43yrs has only gone up every single year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LittleDesertFlower.Nuar Nuar Hegrat

    oh yeah.. and right now they have SOOOO much new housing (condos/apts/highrises/etc.) that building had started on & were planned BEFORE the crash, that only about 20-50% of the spots are even leased. — And STILL no rent relief?!?!?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffery.j.smith1 Jeffery J. Smith

    This is a pretty old observation, dating back at least as far as the book Progress & Poverty by Henry George. Funny how humans are incapable of learning from the past, condemning themselves to constantly repeating it. If you want to end poverty, you have to quit giving away patents for nearly free and halt other forms of corporate welfare. You have to quit taxing wages, a tax whose impact is felt at the margin, not at MacDonald’s and other healthy enterprises that the economists study, and quit taxing returns for investing in useful production, you have to redirect all of society’s spending for land and resources into the public treasury, a la Alaska and Hong Kong, and you must pay citizens a dividend, a la Alaska and Singapore. Poverty will be no more. Note the word “job” wasn’t mentioned once. progress.org

  • http://twitter.com/akintundedisu akintundedisu

    in the past there was always that great leveller death duties , but G bush 2 got rid of most of that . i have no qualms about creating an environment that fosters commerce and innovation but please what did you heirs do to deserve so much

  • Otto Shelmet

    Cindy Chavez is San Jose’s biggest supporter of Unions and liberal civic policies. Ms. Mendoza wrote the AP article that drew this attention, writes with a distinctly liberal tone to her stories. She typically reports from a leftist viewpoint as do most AP writers.

  • Otto Shelmet

    Dude, we became one of the biggest welfare states in the U.S. People from all over the country came here to sponge off our generous welfare. Reagan’s fault? Hardly! Liberal assembly and state senate more likely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-Hathaway/529891323 Jennifer Hathaway

    The only solution I can see to a corrupted and failing system is to remove ourselves from it, in as many ways as we can come up with, as creatively as possible.

    These days, multinational corporations hold the reins to food, water, clothing, shelter, transportation, and energy. America has become a “company town”.

    It was not always so, contrary to what the idiot Ayn Rand followers wish to believe*, and it does not need to remain so.

    I’ve spent decades slowly extricating myself from the debtors’ culture, and while I don’t have much, what I have is all mine, and growing.

    Find as many ways as you can to remove corporations from your lifestyle. Every little bit helps.

    The more you support local businesses, local credit unions and small banks, local farmers, and local artisans, the less you are giving away to the vultures who call themselves capitalists, and the more you help to restore the human economies that once wove the foundations of our nation.

    *re. the idiots mentioned above, google “Bill Maher Slams Paul Ryan”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/adriana.lee.397 Adriana Lee

    @Otto: the biggest welfare recipients are the big corporations, like Walmart. They even suggest their full time employees to apply for medicare, section eight and food stamps and give them the information where to do so. In the same time Walmart is using the tax loopholes to get more money in and in the same time they import the majority of products, maybe accept food (veggies & fruits).
    U.S and generous welfare programs for people… seriously??? Check other countries. In Europe USA is know as country with no social net whatsoever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dryheaves.daily Dryheaves Daily

    Gates wants a better condom so us breeders wont breed as much and zuckerberg is a kid who wants illegal immigrants to come to places like silicon valley to bring down wages. great bunch of people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dryheaves.daily Dryheaves Daily

    welcome to Zimbabwe North. At least you won a home. the new millionaires are the pensioners. Heck, a meter maid in San Jose makes 100k per year. In my district a freaking gym teacher make 96k and pensions and health care for life. For telling kids to run around the gym for 1/2 hour?

  • jahnsart

    You have no idea of what you are talking about…Look up the welfare laws in this country and you will see that those benefits can only last for 4 years, lifetime…Get your facts straight…Of course it started with Ronny Raygun..

  • kirby

    Economic disparity was addressed quite well by
    John Steinbeck in “Grapes of Wrath”.
    He said:
    1.When property and wealth accumulates in too few hands,it is taken away.

    2.When a majority of the people are hungry and cold,
    they will take by force what they need.

    3.Repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.bartholomew.589 Matt Bartholomew

    As a regular listener of NPR I want to first thank you, Bill Moyers, for spotlighting this pathetically disgraceful epidemic that far too often simply gets overlooked or ignored by the general public/society. As a person who has been living out of my car for over two years now largely due to an economy that wall street banks and other high rolling criminals ruined for all of us except their type, [gee, what a surprise] who largely have been oblivious to all the hardship and suffering that people like me are enduring, I can honestly say that this has been the worst time of my life, hands down, which all started when I lost my beloved mother to a stroke as her then caretaker just about three years ago. I truly had no idea before this happened to me how desperately alone, abandoned and forlorn a person can become “living” this way. It has been eye opening, to say the least, how endlessly difficult it is dealing with a culture of general apathy and indifference, even from people and organizations that are supposed to give a damn regarding helping people get out of these circumstances before its too late for them. This is what I’ve been dealing with for all of this time, top to bottom. You would think that in the year 2013 we would have a reasonable, effective plan in place to house people a lot sooner than three or four years down the road, if you’re lucky. [Especiially single males of middle age.] More than anything else, this seems to me to come down to a complete lack of will by society to get motivated and care enough to solve this national disgrace. There are way too many people who better start remembering the saying “there but for the grace of God go I”. Unfortunately, its easier to not care about the homeless until you’re affected somehow by it. We need a major wake up call in this country related to how we are dealing with this issue sooner rather then later. Thanks again Mr. Moyers. Matt B.

  • Jean

    Suzann Fulbright, I understand what you are saying. As a welfare caseworker during Reagan’s Rein, one of the dumbest things I had to telll people was “I can not help you. You have no address.” Who could need help more? People who were unable to read were unable to fill out a simple request for help. Who could need assistance more than one who can not read or write?

    I, too, have always spoken up for the homeless–have also been homeless. Those who have not been without shelter, food, clothing , without family, do not understand despair.

  • bagoboy

    You think you were depressed? Now in my 60s, i grew up with the fear of the A bomb (duck and cover) but other than conformism not too bad. after sputnik we invested billions in education and educated as many of us whites as possible. After returning home as a pacifist from viet nam, GI bill got lower class me thru college while protesting war monger LBJ. What did I get? Nixon the crook, it couldn’t get any worse. Then Carter Lost to REAGAN; I was proved wrong. at least that was as low as the country could go. Oops, Gore lost to Bush, cheney and company; How low could we get was slapped in our face. Starting as a Republican in the 60s, I Nixon, Reagam. and GW Bush moved me at first to democrats, and then seeing Clinton continuing policies for the military corporate elite, I was left wandering with few who were electable but I continue to vote for those few anyway. In my final years I hope but given experience doubt that it won’t get any worse; yet see little effect other than polimics from Obama and the democrats. I’m really a pretty happy guy if I don’t think of the state of the governing oligarchy.

    I don’t like to drink so legalize Pot, Coke, Morphine, whatever so I can get thru my final years without pain.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1229629065 Cheryl Comento

    I know many seniors who would love to make $19,000 a year

  • http://twitter.com/2manyjobless 2manyjobless

    It seems like far from the line “they’re doing jobs Americans won’t do” there’s one union after another denying Americans jobs, even those on the bottom rungs of the ladder. I have personally heard 2 carpenters, 1 mexican-american, saying they can’t get sent out on jobs because they’re being filled by illegals. No wonder we have homelessness!!!
    How many californians, and americans, are without a job due to illegals? Do American Consulates in Mexico get funding from Mexican Federal and state governments, plus any university there, to train Americans to steal Mexican jobs?
    >>UNION: United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 – San Jose
    “The purpose of the Health Education and Leadership program, or HEAL[taxpayer funded!!!], is to make supermarkets in the county safer for –Mexican– employees who have little or no English language proficiency.”
    http://milpitas.patch.com/articles/mexican-consulate-offers-new-safety-training-program-for-grocery-store-workers
    The foodworkers union, UFCW local 5, urged passage of a resolution supporting AMNESTY at the Santa Clara Supervisors meeting(not far from the site of the story) recently, even as the local authorities are tearing up tent camps of the jobless and homeless.
    BTW – there’s 47 Mexican consulates(even 1 in Alaska! – most countries have less than 5). Enablers of ID fraud via MCs/Matricula Consulars. Scamming our healthcare system with “Ventanillas de Salud”.

    Remember “I am a man” , the Memphis sanitation strike? Just as outrageous is Waste Management hiring illegals instead of blacks(40% unemployed) or other americans in need… joblessness can kill too.
    >>UNION: International Longshore and Warehouse Union
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/East-Bay-trash-workers-strike-for-5-hours-4357629.php

    Most galling would be the Pacific Steel/Ignacio de la FUentes – 200 jobs that most any American in Oakland would have found acceptable…up to $28/hour wage.
    >>UNION: Glass Molders International Union
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_19557783

    I’m just left wondering how much this is costing; again how many American families live in deprivation due to illegal immigration. And if it’s going end in (more) social unrest…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Zachary-Chastain/1308655925 Zachary Chastain

    And just because you heard two carpenters talking about must mean its true? Lots of people like to blame their misfortune on others. I’ve heard plenty of ignorant people discuss such things in public, it doesn’t mean they’re right. If they have real evidence that their employers are filling their positions with “illegal” workers, then they should report it. The employer will face consequences for doing so, because it’s not legal to hire people who are not authorized to work in the US.

    More than likely, these guys are just trying to put a face and name to the misfortune they’re experiencing (A lack of work during an economic downturn.).

    Most immigrants who are not authorized to work in our country do migrant farm work. They pick our fruits and vegetables, getting paid shit to work hard all day, so that our produce remains cheap. It would be too expensive to pay US wages to have US workers do the job, and even for the right price, few would want those jobs.

  • V.l. Bridges

    Do not punish the rich because some people choose to break laws; self abuse with drugs; found themselves unable to hold a job. We are the result of a steady stream of decisions and choices.

  • Anonymous

    Pittsburg Law Firm Cohen & Grigsby Seminar on

    “How To Legally Avoid Hiring An American; How To Hire An H-1b Instead”

  • Anonymous

    60% of bankruptcies are due to medical events; 78% of those had insurance.

  • Anonymous

    Black
    American tells truth On Illegal Aliens in South Central

  • Tuti

    My partner tried Meth and took over him. He lots everything, now homeless and lives in the creeks of San Jose. It’s heartbreaking to loose the one you love.

  • Zachary Chastain

    No, I haven’t lived there, but I visit often for business. Over 50%? Not according to 2010 US Census data: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06000.html

    Try around 38%, compared to 73% white. Also, you do realize that people also immigrate legally too, right? Not every Hispanic person in this country is an illegal immigrant.

  • Rich Arp

    Totally wrong. The disparity only continues to worsen. If it were just bad choices that wouldn’t be the case. The rich are rewriting laws for their benefit. It started with Reagan and snowballed. Also, many are mentally ill. Recall when Reagan as CA governor in the 60s closed the mental institutions down? Those folks, who used to be housed, are now the homeless. And what do you do when you can’t find work and become hopeless? How do you find a tiny bit of happiness? Perhaps through drugs.

  • Anonymous

    You can’t save everyone but if the tech giants really gave it some thought they could make shelter for those that need it.

  • Kit Lofroos

    blaming ‘individual choices’ for economic failure is the easy way to be unwilling to see economic, systemic infrastructure that allows people to fall into an abyss of poverty, etc. Affordable, secure & safe housing cannot be built by individuals (unless one considers tents along a creek affordable housing). Affordable housing requires realtors and banks to participate , as well as affordable housing advocacy and actual funding and building of such housing. When rent for a studio costs approx. $2200, what i the solution for getting people off the streets??

  • mexiapolis

    The “Progressive’s Nirvana” of CA is exactly what the Politburo in Sacramento created. It’s not just Silicon Valley. Welcome to the Great Society!

    Nearly 25% of Californians live BELOW the poverty line.

    CA also boasts:

    The highest degree of income inequality

    The highest tax rates

    Businesses leaving at an unprecedented rate.

    The highest rate of racial segregation

    The highest rate of education failure (70% of incoming freshman need remedial help, UCs own study)

    The highest energy prices.

    The direct recruitment of third-world poverty, destroying any pressure on middle-class wages.

    Thirty years of Neo-Marxism has literally destroyed CA.

    For those under 50, you would be surprise that CA was once called the “Golden State”.