California is currently facing the worse income inequality scenario ever. It is reported that there is a consistent rise in living costs in affluent parts like Santa Barbara; at the same time, wages are absolutely stagnant. This leaves the residents struggling with the task of making ends meet.
In fact, even those who have jobs are finding it difficult to afford to live in the state and many of them have moved to live in their cars. The situation is being termed as “middle-class vagrancy”.
Safe parking initiative
The New Beginnings Counseling Center is a local organization that is aiming to address the problem in the state. It initiated the Safe Parking program to match sanctioned clients and supervised parking spots close to churches, non-profits, and government offices. This allows residents to spend the night safely in their vehicles.
Safe Parking is a not a new program; in fact, it was launched in 2004. However, in the last 18 months, the initiative has expanded and now has 23 lots. The waiting list for the program has over 40 families.
At present, the program has 150 clients and about 40% of them are employed. This includes nurse assistant, Marva Ericson, who currently resides in her Kia. Ericson was forced to leave her job after a round of seizures. She underwent tests to be diagnosed with the condition of a brain tumor.
While Ericson has recovered and is able to work again, she continues to struggle with managing her day-to-day living costs. The nurse assistant works two jobs and earns up to $14 per hour. Ericson had to let go of her apartment about 3 months earlier and has continued to live in her vehicle ever since then.
San Francisco facing housing crisis too
San Francisco is also facing the problem of a housing crisis and increased living costs. And the issue is not just limited to the middle and working class. When Patterson and Sheridan, a law firm based in Houston, decided to establish an office in Silicon Valley, the employees were kept in Texas and did not shift base to California.
The lawyers of the firm undertake a monthly commute for meetings on a $3 million-worth jet that is equipped with premium leather seats and luxury wood cabins. The firm believes this as a highly cost-effective choice. The price of jet and the operational cost of $2,500 an hour still allows the firm to offer lower prices to its clients since a chunk of the work gets taken care of in Houston.