During the pandemic, racial and social inequalities increased dramatically, according to this year’s Silicon Valley Pain Index.
The annual report of the Institute of Human Rights at San Jose State University examines everything from housing to education to income in Santa Clara County.
One of the most striking findings is that during the pandemic thousands more people ended up living on the streets. The homeless population in the county continues to grow, with more than 11,000 people living on the streets in 2020. According to the Pain Index, this represents a 9% increase.
Homeless lawyer Robert Aguirre fears the number will increase soon.
“These numbers will increase dramatically as more and more people are evicted,” he said.
SJSU sociology professor Dr Scott Myers-Lipton is the lead author of the 2021 Pain Index. His report found 197 homeless people died on the streets in 2020, a 22% increase from compared to 2019.
The Pain Index also found that for nearly one in four people in the county, hunger is a persistent problem.
“Right now in Silicon Valley, over 20% or almost 20% of our population is food insecure,” he said. “That means they’re hungry. They don’t have enough food to eat. Second Harvest Food Bank – they do an amazing job – 500,000 customers per month.”
Myers-Lipton said that while the lack of affordable housing and food insecurity were already problems before the pandemic, COVID-19 has made matters worse for struggling families, especially in the Latinx and Vietnamese communities.
“We are not going in the right direction,” he said.
The Pain Index looked at 60 reports and also found persistent gender and racial gaps in hiring in the Silicon Valley tech industry.