Poverty in Paradise
9:30 - 11:00
October 10, 2002
Santa Cruz: We have the beach, the Boardwalk, breathtaking redwood forests and our own University. Such luxuries seldom come without a price, and we pay for it in housing. The Santa Cruz housing market is one of the least affordable in the nation, and since the rent increased by a whopping 30% last year, it's not surprising to find that low income workers are packing their bags because they can't pay their rent.
So what about the middle class? They should be getting by just fine. That's what middle class is, isn't it? As it turns out, median income households lack the income necessary for owning a house, condo, or even a mobile home. People are evicted from their home everyday. What we fail to realize is that these people are our firefighters, teachers, construction workers, and bus drivers.
Even police officers are becoming a rare breed in this town because they move away once they learn they cannot afford to live here. Businesses and services are now undergoing difficulty in hiring people who would usually hold these jobs; horrifying, because these positions are very important to the community.
Lower-income, working Americans and those on fixed incomes are crowding into even smaller spaces than ever before. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition's America's Growing Wage-Rent Disparity, a person earning minimum wage ($6.75) must slave away at their job for at least 145 hours a week to come home to a poorly maintained, two-bedroom apartment. What I don't understand is why such a wealthy, beautiful, presumably liberal town like Santa Cruz must insist on charging their inhabitants ridiculous prices for less than substantial homes.
My friend, Kelli, moved here over a year ago and has...