Economy

Poor Families Evicted From Silicon Valley Apartments so Building Can Rebrand for Facebook Workers

The owners hope to attract tenants who work at Google and Facebook instead.

Photo Credit: FlickR/Jim Merithew/Wired.com

A poor family in Silicon Valley, always prompt with their rent payments, recently received an inexplicable eviction notice.

The story of the Hernandez family, which the Guardian reports in detail Wednesday, turns out not to be an anomaly. Many other Latino families in the Redwood City building that was recently purchased by the private equity firm Trion Properties are receiving similar notices. Executives at Trion, according to the Guardian "have made it unusually clear that they want a different kind of tenant – high-paid technology workers at the nearby headquarters of Facebook, which is planning a large campus expansion."

Similar stories of displacement are unfolding elsewhere in Silicon Valley, housing advocates say, including in San Mateo and Burlingame. Investors are buying apartments, emptying them of their poor tenants en masse if necessary, then renovating and renting the spaces out to high-paid tech workers.

What seems to distinguish Hernandez's building is how transparent Trion is being about what it is doing, Sam Levin of the Guardian reports. The marketing materials make clear that the intention is to “rebrand” and “revitalize” the property, raise the rents and attract “young working professionals” employed at “Google, Facebook, and other Fortune 100 tech companies.”

While not strictly illegal, the evictions are causing tenants a great deal of fear and anxiety. Laura Hernandez, 26, says she was given very little time to move. “Because I breastfeed my daughter, I feel like I’m passing that stress and depression on to her,” she told the Guardian during an interview in Spanish. “We’re not asking for a place to live for free. We just need a little more time.”  

 

 

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