Down and out in Silicon Valley
September 3, 1999
By Correspondent Rusty Dornin
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- Most residents of California's Silicon Valley are living the lush life, buoyed by the bounty of high-paying jobs in lucrative high-tech industries.
For Michael Ollis, however, there was no pot of gold at the end of the microchip rainbow. He wound up homeless and in a shelter.
"A golden opportunity, I mean ... if there's gold out there, I haven't found it ... it's all lead," Ollis said.
Ollis works as a furniture installer at a high-tech firm by day. At night he lives in San Jose's homeless shelter.
One-third of the facility's 125 residents have jobs, but they don't make enough to pay rent.
"The irony is that you're making more money in Silicon Valley than anywhere else in the United States, but you can't afford to live here ... you're homeless," said Barry Del Buono, of the Emergency Housing Consortium.
It happened to Liz Anderson. She works at the post office and makes $37,000 annually. She's bogged down by credit problems and has been forced to live at the shelter since June.
"I gross too much to qualify for low income housing, but I take home too little to get into a place I can afford," Anderson said.
Rental deposits often cost apartment-seekers $3,000 or more.
"It's probably easier to buy a home anywhere in the United States than to rent here," Del Buono said.
For some in this region, the American dream means finding a place to live for less than $1,000 a month.
Blue collar workers are not the only ones feeling the pinch in Silicon Valley, where the median price of a house is $410,000.
Some companies have donated $20 million to a fund designed to help with rent assistance and low income housing.
Everywhere you look, there are signs of the high cost of living.
"There's a lot of us here trying very hard to get into a home and a place they can say to their co-workers, 'Well, I'm going home,'" Ollis said.
But unfortunately for him, the place Ollis now calls home is a far cry from the place where he wants to be.
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.