SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - The Bay Area is now ahead of New York City in the amount of office space its leased so far this year. That’s especially true for one section, facing a debilitating housing shortage. The region’s growth is evident with each new office building sporting a lease sign out front. This year alone, the region is projected to open 18.2 million square feet of office space. That's a number greater than the cities of New York and Dallas, combined..
“We want people to have jobs, livelihoods, pay their taxes. Contribute to our economy and our communities,” said Carl Guardino, the CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
But increasingly, communities that serves as home for tech titans such as Apple, Google, and Facebook, also seeing many workers squeezed out due to an acute housing shortage. From 2010 to 2015, the region created six-times as many jobs as housing units. Commercial openings in Santa Clara County are up 6.5% over last year.
“Industry is expanding. The high tech is expanding you have firms here that want to locate (or expand here), because that’s where the skilled labor is,” said San Jose State University economist Fred Folvery.
This is also a place for the forgotten workers. The scores of low-income earners who have joined the homelessness on streets and in RVs, as the housing market continues skyrocketing..
“This is the opposite of field of dreams. People lived here and they had their dreams and their dreams were coming true. And then people got greedy they priced them out. And now the original inhabitants of San Jose are living on the streets everywhere. And now they’re saying, ‘no no on we’ll build more, new people will come.’ But what’s gonna happen to the people that were here? they’re on the streets and they’re gonna get pushed out and pushed out. You can’t just do over and pretend all these people weren’t here to begin with,” said South Bay affordable housing advocate Shaunn Cartright.
Some areas, such as San Francisco and Hayward have done better with residential building. But experts say as long as tax laws and local restrictions continue to benefit commercial construction, and make residential development difficult, investors will migrate to the easy money.
“We need a climate where people are equally able to invest in building homes for hard working families in the bay area and beyond. Because we need both,” said Guardino.
But it’s unclear how long it will take for the lopsided boom in commercial growth to catch up with the growing demand for a decent, affordable place to live.