The tech industry boom has made the Bay Area one of the most popular places to live in the US, leading to a huge population influx. Not only has the housing market not expanded adequately to account for this influx, but there seems to be little intent or commitment from developers and government to do so. However, there is no easy solution to the Bay Area’s housing crisis. Should people not be allowed to move here? Should there be more affordable housing?
It seems to me that affordable housing is a fair and commendable way to provide housing for low-income residents in the face of gentrification, but it doesn’t address the root causes and is not realistic on the scale that is necessary to solve the housing crisis. It is understandable that the housing market hasn’t been able to keep up with the growth of the tech industry over the last years, but in the long run an increase in the supply of housing is the only thing that will stabilize and bring down housing prices, since they are being driven up by high demand and insufficient supply. This means however, that people in the Bay Area will need to reevaluate what their neighborhoods looks like, and should look like in the future. Palo Alto is no longer a cute little town on the bay – that picture is simply incompatible with the presence of companies like Facebook and Google right next door.
I don’t think that industrial growth, in this case the tech industry, or the accompanying population influx are inherently bad. The problem lies in the decades of racial and socio-economic segregation in the Bay Area, as well as the wealthier population’s desire to preserve their suburban style towns from urbanization while welcoming industrial growth, which is driving up housing prices and pushing low-income families out of their homes.