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Facebook cafeteria worker living in a Menlo Park garage with family

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Article in The Guardian shows how Silicon Valley still struggles to adequately house its workforce

View from Windy Hill toward Palo Alto and Menlo Park.
View from Windy Hill toward Palo Alto and Menlo Park.
Photo by Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

While Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg tours the country in an effort to “learn about people’s hopes and challenges” (see: test the waters for a political office run), some of his employees hope he makes a pitstop at the housing crisis happening in his own backyard.

Is he going to come here?” wonders Menlo Park resident Nicole, a mother of three, who, along with her husband, Victor, work as one of 500 cafeteria employees at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters.

Julia Carrie Wong of The Guardian penned a piece today about the home life of the two employees. In part, she writes:

“He doesn’t have to go around the world,” said Nicole. “He should learn what’s happening in this city.”

The family of five have lived in this cramped space next to Victor’s parents’ house for three years. Three beds crowd the back wall, while a couch and coffee table mark the front of the room as a living area. Clothes are hung neatly from the garage door tracks. The family goes next door to use the bathroom and kitchen. “It’s not easy,” Victor said on a recent morning. “Especially when it’s raining.”

“Our daughter continues to ask us when she’s going to get her own room, and we don’t know what to tell her,” added Nicole.

The entire article deserves your attention. As the Bay Area falls deeper into a blackhole of affordable housing, homeownership (in Silicon Valley and beyond) has turned into a luxury good for the very few.

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For Facebook’s part, the company has attempted to ease the housing crunch with a new development in the works—a tentative residential and retail space in Menlo Park that could feature roughly 1,500 new units. However, that project, helmed Dutch architecture firm OMA, would most likely be aimed at high- to -middle-income resident.

Silicon Valley towns are notorious for stalling any and all effective housing, especially when it comes to the area’s burgeoning workforce. Atherton, for example, when it’s not undermining Caltrain electrification, can’t even find a home for the new police chief.

And Palo Alto has had a slew of troubles; in addition to teardown abodes asking for millions—this 908-square-foot abode netted $2,550,000—local lawmakers have no plans on making it easier for anyone to call this bustling suburban town home.

“We don’t want to turn into Manhattan,” said Palo Alto Mayor Patrick Burt in a 2016 interview.