The Guardian has one of those interminable pieces bemoaning one of the minor problems of the word. Rich people in Silicon Valley are having to pay a lot for their houses. And yes, by any global or historical standard those who come to clean those houses in Silicon Valley are rich.
The Guardian also demands some sort of solution to this problem:
Sales like this may be a harbinger. As the tech companies Uber, Airbnb, Lyft and Pinterest prepare to go public, thousands more instant millionaires are expected flood the market in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. All the while, the middle class and working poor are scrambling for shelter. IPO talk is bringing “a resurgence of buyers’ confidence into the market”, said Judy Citron, one of the top realtors in the region. OK, great, more cash around.
“This area may have the greatest concentration of wealth in human history,” said Lenny Siegel, the former mayor of Mountain View, whose house is valued at $2.5m. He purchased it 40 years ago for $112,000. Many in his boots would be happy, but he is not. There is no longer any room for teachers, medical technicians, firefighters or construction workers, who may drive two or more hours and sleep in their cars for an hour before work to avoid longer commutes. “It’s not sustainable,” he said. Renting a bed in a van here costs between $500 and $900 a month, said Maria Marroquin, executive director of the Day Workers’ Center in Mountain View. Gardeners, cleaning people, babysitters and dog walkers cram into small apartments, sometimes 12 in two bedrooms, according to Marroquin.
And it appears that we need more housing around too. So, how do we deal with this?
Well, one answer would be to use the cash around to build more houses. And this would in fact solve the problem. We even can see the solution in the specific photograph the Guardian uses to illustrate the story:
See all those green bits there? Open land? Go build houses on those bits.
But, but, you say that’s protected land! Parks’n’stuff. OK, fine, then have expensive houses. After all, they’re not making land any more so it’s something in scarce supply. And what’s worth more? A roof over the heads of a family or somewhere to go gawp at squirrels? The answer being, of course, the roof, unless you’re very rich indeed in which case why not the tree rodents?
That is, building in the parks and over the protected land is a pro-poor policy. And aren’t we all supposed to be that these days, pro-poor?