Culture
12:47 pm
Sat April 6, 2013

Homeless in High Tech’s Shadow

In California’s Silicon Valley, Facebook, Google and Apple have minted hundreds of new tech millionaires. But not far away, the homeless are building tent cities along a creek in the city of San Jose.

Silicon Valley is actually a tale of two cities - one a home for millionaires and prosperous tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Apple; the other, a place where former tech industry workers are now homeless and living on the fringe of society.

The gap illustrates America's new economic extremes. Homelessness rose 20 percent in the past two years, food stamp participation is at a 10-year high, and the average income for Hispanics, who make up a quarter of the area's population, fell to a new low of about $19,000 a year -- in a place where the average rent is $2000 a month. Bill Moyers calls Silicon Valley "a microcosm of America's new extremes of wealth and poverty."

In the web-exclusive report, we explore this striking disparity with exclusive insight from Cindy Chavezof Working Partnerships USA; Russell Hancock of Joint Venture Silicon Valley; AP writer Martha Mendoza, whose recent piece about Silicon Valley poverty brought this story to our attention; Daniel Garcia, who became homeless after losing his job in a Google campus restaurant; and Teresa Frigge, a homeless woman who used to make the silicon chips that give the valley its name.

Watch the video below from Bill Moyers Reports:

 

California’s Silicon Valley is a microcosm of America’s new extremes of wealth and poverty. Business is better than it’s been in a decade, with companies like Facebook, Google and Apple minting hundreds of new tech millionaires. But not far away, the homeless are building tent cities along a creek in the city of San Jose. Homelessness rose 20 percent in the past two years, food stamp participation is at a 10-year high, and the average income for Hispanics, who make up a quarter of the area’s population, fell to a new low of about $19,000 a year — in a place where the average rent is $2000 a month.

As this week’s Moyers & Company remembers Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy in economic justice as well as civil rights, we visit Silicon Valley to bring you this story about modern-day poverty and inequality. We talk to Cindy Chavez of Working Partnerships USA; Russell Hancock of Joint Venture Silicon Valley; Martha Mendoza, an AP writer whose recent piece about Silicon Valley poverty brought this story to our attention; Daniel Garcia, who became homeless after losing his job in a Google campus restaurant; and Teresa Frigge, a homeless woman who used to make the silicon chips that give the valley its name.

Producer/Editor: Lauren Feeney. Producer/Camera: Cameron Hickey.