Silicon Valley’s economy may be booming, but many families are struggling to make ends meet as the valley’s housing prices continue to soar. To help find solutions to the housing crisis and protect current residents from displacement due to rising costs, Silicon Valley Community Foundation is providing support to numerous housing and legal advocacy groups.
In San Mateo County, where the average cost for a two-bedroom apartment is more than $2,800, families in a Redwood City apartment complex are experiencing firsthand the negative consequences of Silicon Valley’s competitive rental market. Eighteen families were recently given 60-day notices to move out of their $1,600-a-month apartments to make way for high-end apartments renting for more than $3,000 a month. The residents have been scrambling ever since. Some are moving to Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, while others are without affordable housing options and time is running out.
Among the 18 families in Redwood City was a 14-year-old boy named Gabriel Bañuelos who took action on their behalf, responding to official notices and reaching out to elected officials, city staff and legal representation during his summer break. It’s a lot of work to do for a boy who is preparing to attend nearby Sequoia High School – but can only do so if his family is able to stay in the area.
Where else can these families turn for help with their tenant eviction notices or relocation assistance? Luckily, the tenants also have the support of a coalition of housing and legal advocacy organizations, many of which are funded through Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Building Strong Communities grantmaking strategy. The coalition includes San Francisco Organizing Project, Housing Leadership Council, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, and Urban Habitat. Their campaign focuses on fighting for the construction of new affordable housing in San Mateo County while also protecting existing residents from being displaced. These organizations are working hard to ensure that public officials, business leaders and other residents hear the voices of renters who are threatened with displacement. When these residents are forced to relocate far from the places they have called home, it weakens the communities that have built Silicon Valley into the one-of-kind place that it is.