Homelessness On The West Coast Is Soaring & The Tech Industry Could Be To Blame

Ad failed to load

For the first time in seven years, the homeless population in the United States increased by 1 percent this year. While that doesn't sound like much, the bump came from a surge of homelessness concentrated in California, Oregon, and Washington. The soaring number of homeless people on the West Coast has led to at least 10 states of emergency in various cities and counties in the past two years.

From San Diego to Seattle, officials suggest that a lack of affordable housing thanks to the tech industry's boom could be the cause. As white-collar yuppies move into increasingly gentrifying neighborhoods, the price for rent and homeownership rockets in these areas, pushing out lower-income workers like retail clerks, plumbers, janitors, and teachers who can no longer afford the exorbitant rent. As the tech sector continues to grow, tent camps and hepatitis A outbreaks have sprouted up in recent years.

The report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development showed that the overall homeless population in the West Coast states grew 14 percent over the past two years, more than any other region. In Los Angeles County, for instance, the number of homeless people increased by 26 percent from 2016 to 2017, bringing the total homeless population to more than 57,000.

Ad failed to load
David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In Silicon Valley, The Nation reported in March that families were living in cars parked next to houses of tech startup executives. Last year, wealthy investors and members of the tech elite donated money to Proposition Q, an ordinance to clear out the sidewalk tent encampments. The ordinance passed and has mixed support.

Meanwhile, advocates and grassroots organizations are pushing for policy reform that protects employees as they believe the Silicon Valley housing crisis is linked to a job crisis. One such organization, Silicon Valley Rising, advocates for policies that mandate fair work schedules and living wage standards. For immediate solutions, the nonprofit Lava Mae provides shower access via mobile hygiene units.

Ad failed to load

Access to hygiene care could also help mitigate public health problems. San Diego is currently fighting a hepatitis A outbreak traced to the homeless population. A person contracts hepatitis A from eating or drinking something contaminated with the fecal matter, even tiny amounts, of an infected person. The city has resorted to scrubbing their sidewalks with bleach.

In Los Angeles, city officials are turning to existing buildings to shelter people. Los Angeles saw this year a rise in the number of homeless veterans despite an overall drop nationwide. But the city is home to at least 382 old motels with about 10,259 rooms. A plan is under discussion to convert the motels into temporary or supportive housing complexes.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Ad failed to load

Outside of California, the homelessness has become a dominant issue in cities like Seattle and Portland. Seattle City Councilman Mike O'Brien told WTOP:

I’ve got economically zero unemployment in my city, and I’ve got thousands of homeless people that actually are working and just can’t afford housing. There’s nowhere for these folks to move to. Every time we open up a new place, it fills up.

A survey by Portland news station KGW revealed 34 percent of Portlanders have considered moving out of the city because of the impact of homelessness on their daily lives. But the majority of those surveyed also supported building permanent shelters in Portland. Portland resident David Bangsberg, dean of the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, advised in a letter to The Oregonian that the city should invest in "housing designed for hard-working but economically disenfranchised older adults — places that combine new economic opportunities that tap into their wisdom and experience to build stable, vibrant and intergenerational communities."

Ad failed to load

As advocates, policymakers and nonprofits attempt to solve the homelessness crisis on the West Coast, pressure is also mounting on tech companies to better support the workers who help the industry thrive.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Your Weekend Love Horoscope For May 19-20, 2018

We’re constantly fascinated by what our zodiac sign says about our lives, whether it's which signs are most compatible or how each sign handles conflict in relationships. That's why Bustle has enlisted Mecca Woods, a New York City-based astrologer of…
By Mecca Woods

7 Last-Minute Royal Wedding Party Ideas Worth Waking Up Early For

We're only two days away from the royal wedding, so it's safe to assume Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are finished with their planning (we hope). But if you're a commoner who's procrastinated on planning a watch party, you still have time to decorat…
By Ayana Lage

10 Little-Known British Traditions Meghan Markle Will Learn When She Marries Prince Harry

As an American woman dating a Brit, I am no stranger to the mishaps that can result from the cultural differences between the U.S. and England. And while I'm sure Meghan Markle has a slew of royal traditions to learn, titles to remember, and fancy ha…
By Kristin Magaldi

16 Brand New YA Rom-Coms To Add To Your Summer Reading List

Ah, summer. Post-Memorial Day it's all about being outside in the sunshine, lazy pool days and exciting beach trips, warm weather treats, and — most important of all — tote bags packed to the brim with all of the biggest and best summer reads. Whatev…
By Kerri Jarema

I've Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000

It all became real the summer before my senior year of college. It was 2010, and my home phone still had a cord, which I wrapped around my fingers as I waited not-so-patiently for the apathetic representative on the other end to tell me the bad news …
By Kaitlyn Cawley

12 Personality Quizzes That Will Help You Determine Your Exact Strengths

Learning more about yourself can be tough. It's so easy to observe others to learn what makes them tick, what areas they really excel in, and the things they could be better at. Doing that to yourself, however, is a whole different story. That's exac…
By Jessica Booth

5 Brand New Short Story Collections You Can Finish In One Sitting This Weekend

Since 2013, May has been known by book-lovers by another name: Short Story Month. If you're ready to kick off this year's celebration the right way, make sure to pick up a short story collection to read over the weekend. Modern life moves more than …
By Sadie Trombetta

I Got Styled By 'Queer Eye's Tan France & Realized I Still Have A Lot Of Fashion "Rules" To Unlearn

When I walked into a New York City Express store on May 2 to get styled by Queer Eye's Tan France, I was ready for anything. And I mean truly anything. I am such a massive fan of the show and Tan that if he had instructed me to wrap myself in tin foi…
By Olivia Muenter

It Isn’t Bad To Have A “Princess Fantasy” — Mine Made Me The Woman I Am Today

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you were anything like me as a kid, at some point, the answer to that question was "a princess." Thanks to good old-fashioned gender stereotypes, most little girls born in the '90s (and even now) grew up in…
By Nicole Pomarico

9 Mother's Day Gifts For Your Mom That Also Give Back

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and unless you’re the type who’s got gift-giving on lock months in advance — and seriously, who is that person? — you might be scrambling a bit for great Mother's day 2018 gift ideas. And while it’s important to cho…
By Carolyn de Lorenzo

Here’s How To Get A FREE 30-Minute Facial At Sephora That Sucks Your Pores Clean

Sephora has long been a mecca for both serious and amateur beauty lovers alike, where they not only have makeup artists that help answer questions about products, but free samples to let you play with new collections. But now they have upped the ante…
By Marlen Komar

Kris Jenner Is FINALLY Launching A Makeup Line With Kylie

Maybe you don't have a favorite sister of the Kar-Jenner clan, and that's perfectly fine. The one thing you can't deny, though, is that when it comes power, no one in that family has more than the world famous momager. Now, Kris Jenner x Kylie Cosmet…
By Shea Simmons

This Kendall Jenner “Diva” Moment Is Really Being Taken Out Of Context

The fashion always takes center stage at the Met Gala, but there's usually a little drama, too. And this time, a member of the Kardashian-Jenner family is involved. People are buzzing about how Kendall Jenner shoved someone at the Met Gala, but after…
By Nicole Pomarico

Feel Like You've Seen Everything On Netflix? Add These Movies To Your Watch List

The weekend may feel too far away, but if you're lacking formal plans, a Netflix marathon session is always a good idea. If you're an avid viewer, however, you probably feel like you've seen everything the streaming platform has to offer already. In …
By Ashley Rey

These 4 Zodiac Signs Are Going To Have The Best Luck In Love This May

Spring fever is here, but not all signs in the zodiac are dealt the same dose of lovin'. Some signs are going to have a better love lives than the rest of us in May, because that's just the way the cookie crumbles. According to astrologer Linda Furia…
By Kaitlyn Wylde

9 Hacks For Fighting Jet Lag That Actually Work

Jet lag is the worst. There's no doubt about it. And it's only natural to want to find a way to prevent it. Searching for jet lag cures online often means encountering expensive products and sketchy supplements. Luckily, there are ways to train your …
By Eva Taylor Grant

Hillary Clinton Says She's Ready To Fight Like A Republican — EXCLUSIVE

Hillary Clinton Is Not Going Away Quietly. Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly Into The Night? Unlike Losers Before Her, Clinton Is Not Going Gently Into the Night. These headlines, which appeared in various news outlets over the course of the last…
By Catherine Thompson and Jenny Hollander

Here's The Very Best Time To Book Your Summer Vacation If You're Trying To Save Money

Summer is a great time to travel, for obvious reasons. The weather is better. Many offices are more lax about time off. If you have kids, they’re out of school. But there’s one very important element that makes summer not a great time to travel: Cost…
By Emma McGowan
)}