California’s Central Valley supplies almost 25 percent of the food consumed in the United States. In fact, 40 percent of the fruit and nuts that are consumed in the United States are grown in the Central Valley. Unfortunately, the Central Valley has also been a place of increased homelessness that is linked to the Silicon Valley. Patterson, a city located over 80 miles east of San Francisco, has seen its population double since the 2000 census. According to Rent Jungle, an apartment database, the average monthly rent in Patterson has increased from around $900 in 2014 to almost $1,600 this year.
The freeway allows commuters to access high paying jobs in the Silicon Valley, such as the Bay Area, with areas in the Central Valley that have more affordable housing. Michele Gonzales, deputy director of a local housing authority, states:
The families who live [in the Central Valley] just can’t compete with the commuters.
According to a report by the University of the Pacific, the number of people commuting to the Bay Area from areas in the Central Valley has more than doubled between 1990 and 2013, to around 65,000 people. This means that at least 15 percent of the local workforce commutes from the Bay Area to the Central Valley almost daily for work. The Silicon Valley sprawl is affecting residents from the Central Valley that cannot afford to compete with the pay-checks of the people that live in the Silicon Valley. The estimated homeless population in Patterson is around 60-80 people, which is small compared to a large cities such as San Francisco, but Patterson’s homeless population was only about 20 people three years ago. As more people in the Silicon Valley begin to look for more affordable housing out in the Central Valley, it will lead to the homeless population in the Central Valley to increase as more families and people are pushed out of their homes and apartments because of the increased demand for housing.