The San Francisco Bay area, home to Silicon Valley, has the fastest growing income disparity in any city in the United States. The biggest effect of the income disparity is seen in the real estate market where gentrification is forcing long-time residents of certain communities to move. Communities that immigrants from Central America and Mexico have historically called home are overtaken by developers building high-end condos. The new developments will eventually force rent-controlled tenants to vacate their homes due to skyrocketing property value. This is an all too common story for residents in other cities like New York and Washington, D.C., as well. And in each city, the number of evictions and homelessness parallels the rise of rent prices.
In San Francisco Downtown Streets Team (DST) is working to counter the current rise of homelessness. DST provides low-income men and women with resources they need to rebuild their lives. Members volunteer with DST on beautification projects in their neighborhoods and, in exchange, they receive stipends in gift cards to cover their basic needs. DST also provides employment services to help members find permanent housing within one year.
The organization has provided 295 members with housing and 303 members with permanent employment. Currently, DST has 145 team members participating in their programs. DST has programs throughout the Bay Area, including Palo Alto, San Jose, San Rafael, and Sunnyvale. The Palo Alto program was founded in 2005 and since its inception, downtown Palo Alto has seen a 50% reduction in crime, 65% reduction in panhandling, and 54% of reduction in homelessness.
To learn more about DST, please visit their website.