Nov 17, 2017

The housing battle in tech's backyard

Shops in East Palo Alto, which is not as wealthy as many surrounding towns in Silicon Valley. Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

The latest fight over Bay Area housing costs is at the future site of a school being funded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. The Mercury News reports:

"City officials ordered a dozen RVs out of a single, flood-prone residential street Wednesday, igniting protests from residents and social service agencies concerned about a crackdown on the new mode of low-income housing in the Bay Area. The city said some residents were illegally dumping sewage from their vehicles, creating a health hazard soon to be exacerbated by expected rain storms… Protesters claimed the city did not give the residents enough time to pack up and leave."

The street is the future location of The Primary School, which was founded by Chan to provide children's medical care and education under one roof. Construction isn't expected to start for more than a year. "The Primary School was not aware of these actions prior to yesterday and has had no engagement with the city on this matter," said a spokesperson for the school, which currently operates elsewhere. "We are actively supporting ... families affected by this change."

  • Opponents of the city's actions seized on the Zuckerberg connection. "Mark Zuckerberg has tried to play good PR through Chan Zuckerberg Initiative projects," tweeted writer Ju-Hyun Park. "But in order to build his school, Mark Zuckerberg is evicting homeless children and their families."

Notable stat: 58% of kids in the relevant school district, whose schools are mostly K-8, are either homeless or in unstable housing, per superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff. That's up from 25% at the start of the last school year.

These children are neighbors to many tech companies. It's just a 12 minute drive from the school district to Facebook HQ and 20 minutes to the Googleplex.

Flashback: "RVs booted out of Latham Street in Mountain View"

This post has been updated to clarify that the school district mentioned above includes one charter high school.

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