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.