Local Homelessness | Teen Ink

Local Homelessness

April 21, 2018
By AliKazmi SILVER, San Jose, California
AliKazmi SILVER, San Jose, California
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

There are three basic needs in live in order to survive: food, water, and shelter. In the modern society within San Jose, we have food and water ready for access at your local grocery store, but shelter has only been accessible to the upper middle class due to its price. Why is this not acessible like the other basic needs in San Jose? Well, with housing prices rising in San Jose constantly and consistently, housing is not accessible to the lower social classes of San Jose. These housing prices are growing due to the fact that the construction of shelter for the people cannot keep up with the population growth of San Jose,  San Jose laws slowing or even stopping housing projects from happening, and because of housing departments trying to make a profit.

In San Jose, the lack of housing being built compared to the population growth is surreal.

According to “Walters: Why California’s housing problem is getting worse” by The Mercury News, San Jose has gained 10.7 percent more people, with only a 5.7 increase in housing compared to 2010. This is a huge problem because if the houses that are being built are not enough to supply the population growth, San Jose will slowly rise in housing pricing. It’s even worse to know that this situation is not only happening to San Jose, but to California as a whole. Democrats that dominate the Capitol, like Jerry Brown have only proposed to but have not committed to do something that would be ideal to close the gap. And it’s not only because of the Democrat's ideas or the government, but it’s also because of the people of San Jose. According to Walters: Why California’s housing problem is getting worse” by The Mercury News, the “reluctance of local governments” has caused new housing projects to not be passed because of “self-proclaimed environmentalists”. Because of these problems, San Jose has an issue of creating new houses for people to live in, causing the housing prices to shift up and create more demand for houses which cannot be built so easily. Despite the issue of the lack of housing compared to the population, it is not only because of this dominant issue that is causing the housing prices to go up, but also the fact that the middle class does not have enough income due to the insanely high pricing of shelter in San Jose.

Most of the social classes below the upper-middle classes of San Jose cannot afford the housing prices in San Jose. The average housing price for San Jose is eight hundred and twenty-five thousand. While it would great for everyone to be in the upper middle class and get a salary of one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars a year, it is certainly not possible for this to occur due to wealth distribution.  According to Henslin, most of us are in the social class of the lower middle class, only averaging about sixty-thousand dollars a year (Henslin 231). However, even if the people of San Jose have the possibility of being part of the upper-middle classes, they would have to dedicate their income to paying off their shelter. While the upper-middle class could pay for shelter, they would get no income for savings for the future. According to “Building Cities for People”, rising in the housing prices in San Jose have essentially “swallowed savings gains made elsewhere, notably, savings on the cost of energy” (Kotkin 10). This is horrible because while you are considered in the upper-middle class, you would have to dedicate your income just to have a shelter rather than spending it on a vacation with your family. You would not even have a chance of having upward social mobility. So maybe you do not want to buy a house and rent an apartment property instead (Kotkin 10). That would keep your income in check right? Wrong. According to “Building Cities for People”, these “high housing prices particularly boost rents, largely by forcing potential
buyers into the apartment market” (Kotkin 11).  Because of the housing prices being so high, the people of San Jose are forced into going for apartments. Not only that, apartment prices will be high in rent as well for profit.  Therefore, there is no escape into the apartment market for cheaper, affordable homes for the upper-middle class. However, while the upper-middle class suffer with saving their money up because of homes being so expensive, the lower-middle class completely struggle with trying to make ends-meet. This is absolute chaos for San Jose as most of the people who are trying to buy a home for themselves have just finished college with a debt. Not only do they have to pay a debt, they have to also pay another eight hundred and twenty five thousand with the basics needs such as electricity, food, and water. With all of this, there is no chance of upward social mobility for the lower-middle class with all the debt stacked up. With all this struggle, the underclass would completely suffer at the bottom with no chance of having upward social mobility or gain of income. According to Henslin, the average income of a person in a underclass is merely twelve-thousand dollars a year. In order to for them to pay off an average house of eight hundred and twenty-five dollars in San Jose, they would have to dedicate all of their earnings for sixty-eight and three quarters of a year. This is not even considering any sort of other basic needs such as water and food, or even the electricity bill. Dedicating more than half of your lifetime in order to pay for something that is considered an essential need to live as a human is absolute insanity. With all this chaos for all of the social classes, it is still possible to fix the housing crisis that is happening in San Jose.
Although having a large population compared to little housing being built is a large problem, there are a few factors that could possibly increase the housing prices of San Jose as well. Laws that protect the environment explained earlier while do help the environment in some ways, slow down the process of building new housing property.. Jobs such as  “flipping” houses, where you remodel a house and sell it for a higher price, which could cause a shift up in the housing market as well. So what about reducing the housing prices to make it affordable for everyone with a affordable housing act? That wouldn't work too well either. If the housing prices are too affordable for everyone, it would cause an imbalance to the economy, following the mistake of the 2008 economic crisis. In this situation, it would be looked at as very hard to reduce housing prices. However, it is still possible to fix the housing crisis that is happening in San Jose.

In order to fix the housing crisis in San Jose and reduce the prices, it is a very simple answer. San Jose needs to build more houses.. However, San Jose needs to address the problems that slow down or shut down housing construction first. One solution that would allow easier transitioning to get the houses built is to restrict the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The California Environmental Quality Act can be used to slow down the process or even stop housing projects from happening because of the CEQA’s ultimately time consuming reviews. If the CEQA gets restricted to a less heavy review system, there will be more houses projects getting passed faster, allowing the housing prices of San Jose to go down and making the crisis slowly go away.


However, the land in San Jose is finite. A solution to this is to build on land that was once used for government purposes but no longer serve much use.  These areas can be used to actually build in “small lots”, where housing property are built densely packed on the repurposed land.This allows land that was having no use to actually be used while houses are being built compactly and massively as well. Not only does this reduce the housing prices, but this also uses efficient land use for San Jose.

In conclusion, housing prices in San Jose are a huge social problem. Prices have risen up to the point where even the upper classes struggle with saving up money, while the underclass completely struggles with no point of having upward social mobility. Housing prices have increased to the point where it needs to be constantly paid. Problems such as the population being higher than the shelter that is being offered, or smaller ideas such as “flipping houses” cause havoc on the housing prices. However, there are legitimate ways to fix the housing prices such as adding restriction to the California Environmental Quality Act to allow easier transitioning to build houses, or just building compact houses on repurposed land.



Works Cited

Henslin James M. Essentials of Sociology: A Down-To-Earth Approach (11th Edition). Pearson, 2015, Print.
Kotkin, Joel, Wendell Cox, Mark Schill, and Ali Modarres. "Building Cities For People." Ed. Zina Klapper. (2015): 10. Print.
ESSWEIN, PATRICIA MERTZ. "Home Prices Keep Climbing." Kiplinger's Personal Finance, vol. 71, no. 4, Apr. 2017, pp. 40-45. Print.

The author's comments:

I hope to inspire others to take a closer look at the social problems around them. 

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