Priced out of the American dream
A decade after he moved from Nevada to Silicon Valley in search of his slice of the technology boom, Victor Barrera’s tenuous toehold in one of America’s most expensive property markets finally slipped.
Since March the landscaping worker has been living in a small camper van with his wife and six-year-old son, after they were forced by unaffordable rents to leave their one-bedroom apartment in East Palo Alto. They and dozens of other Silicon Valley workers sleep in their cars, trucks and recreational vehicles along a dust-blown public road just a mile from Facebook’s rapidly expanding Menlo Park mega-campus on the San Francisco Bay.
“Rents are going up, the cost of living is going up and instead of hourly wages doubling you are getting micro-increments of 25 cents a year: good luck with that,” says Mr Barrera, a dreadlocked 35-year-old who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. “They are trying to make the Bay Area a gated community.”