EDITOR'S NOTE: The following editorial and video, featuring testimonies of Section 8 tenants impacted by federal sequester cuts, was produced by Silicon Valley De-Bug in collaboration with the Community Homeless Alliance Ministries, a group that is organizing against the rent increases.
SAN JOSE -- Automatic spending cuts to certain federal programs, or sequester cuts, are now hitting Silicon Valley's elderly, disabled, and low-income families especially hard. In one of the costliest places to live in the nation, Section 8 tenants are seeing rents skyrocket as a result of the sequester, and many now face homelessness.
Some 17,000 tenants on the Federal Section 8 housing program in Santa Clara County recently received rent hikes of 10 percent or more due to the draconian spending cuts triggered at the beginning of 2013 after elected officials were unwilling to reach an agreement on reducing the federal deficit. As a result, some families in Silicon Valley have received astonishing rent increases of $900 or more.
Fifty-seven percent of Section 8 voucher holders in Santa Clara County are seniors or disabled and 61 percent are on fixed incomes. There is simply no way they can afford rent increases of this magnitude. In many cases the result will be homelessness, dislocation, and destruction of families.
With some elected officials continuing to threaten inaction on reducing the federal debt ceiling, additional unbearable cuts are projected to continue into next year.
A group of affected tenants in Silicon Valley is calling for the government to immediately halt the sequester, and for allocation of adequate affordable housing funds to meet the needs of the American people. Local members of Congress have been invited to attend and receive the petitions of the tenants, who will be taking action against the devastating rent increases caused by the federal sequester at noon on Thursday, August 29 at San Jose City Hall.
According to our Constitution, the role of government is to promote the general welfare of the people, not the private benefit of corporations. Silicon Valley is the richest area in the richest country in the world, and we are richer now than ever before in our history. There is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from taking care of our most vulnerable people. There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from putting the needs of our residents before tax breaks for corporations. There is nothing, except a tragic moral blindness, that prevents us from paying attention to the human suffering going on right here in our own community.
To see more on Silicon Valley's housing crisis, watch: Inside San Jose's Tent City
Fernando J Perez is a video journalist and a digital media instructor at Silicon Valley De-Bug.