Only regulation can solve housing crisis

by Aditya Singhvi, Co-Sports Editor

In San Francisco, the median house costs $1.00 million — 5.7 times the national median, which remains at $244,000, according to data from Zillow. A two-bedroom apartment in SF would set you back $3,090 per month, 2.6 times the national median of $1,090, according to reports from Apartment List. 

In the heart of Silicon Valley, major tech companies have contributed to rapid growth, creating an exorbitantly rich economy. At the same time, however, the inevitable influx of skilled, highly-paid software workers since the beginning of the Dot-Com-Boom in the 1990s has led to extreme gentrification, often disproportionately affecting neighborhoods with large minority populations. For instance, the number of minority households has declined by 21% from 2000 to 2015, according to research from the Urban Displacement project from UC Berkeley. 

As companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple attract more workers, increasing demand causes prices to skyrocket, driving out working-class individuals.  

We cannot simply deregulate housing and hope that the invisible hand of the free market will discover a morally suitable solution. Apple is a trillion-dollar company. Amazon has been flirting with the threshold for a year. If left unregulated, these companies will act in their own self-interest, continuing to expand at the expense of working-class and minority Bay Area residents.

Corporations such as Apple, Google and Facebook can — and should — do more than throw money at a problem they helped cause in return for good press.”

Through increased zoning laws and permanent housing, local governments can curb the gentrification of these neighborhoods, finally serving their low-income citizens. Stricter inclusionary zoning laws should be adopted, encouraging the building of affordable, low-cost housing units and forcing technology companies to play a greater role in solving the problems they created. Although corporations such as Apple, Google and Facebook have all voluntarily pledged money for affordable housing, they can — and should — do more than throw money at a problem they helped cause in return for good press.  

Furthermore, with a “housing first” approach that emphasizes permanent supportive housing, governments can help support these individuals by providing them with services to confront health and drug problems. Investing in long-term solutions has proven to be less expensive than costly, ineffective shelters and institutional care. 

In an economy grown prosperous with the boom of big tech, we cannot continue to ignore the problems that have come with this rapid expansion. Housing is a basic human right. Through increased regulation and intervention, we must repurpose profits to helping these homeless individuals.

This article was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on March 2, 2020.