Verde believes that the park owners’ decision will not only negatively impact the people and families living in the park’s 104 mobile homes, but also upset Palo Alto’s economic diversity — especially in schools. In the future, the city must implement solutions to provide alternative affordable housing opportunities to support Palo Alto’s low-income residents.
As an affluent city, Palo Alto tends to attract and support the wealthy. However, 17.4 percent of our city’s population lives with an income below $40,000. According to National Public Radio, Buena Vista residents pay an average monthly rent of $700, significantly less than Palo Alto’s average of $2,600, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Jissers are offering park residents $11,000 as relocation assistance and $21,000 if the residents’ homes cannot be relocated.
The residents of the park, some of whom have lived there since the early 90s, have created permanent homes. The majority of Buena Vista residents Verde interviewed said they did not know what they would do after the park’s closure. Few neighboring districts with reasonably priced housing offer education comparable to Palo Alto’s.
The children of the park all currently attend Palo Alto schools. After families are forced to leave Buena Vista, their children will almost definitely have to leave our district’s schools. Our schools benefit from the little socioeconomic and racial diversity they have. Diversity fosters open-mindedness and non-judgemental behavior, allowing our schools’ students to create relationships with those outside their personal scopes.
The city must work to make it easier to legally secure low-income housing in efforts to prevent easy closure of communities like Buena Vista. The city should ensure the security of current and future low-income housing arrangements in a way that would make the eviction of the residents difficult. Laws should bind privately-owned property to protect affordable housing from being sold or re-priced exclusively by the private owner’s whim.
It is the city’s responsibility to accommodate those the park’s closure will displace, either by creating other low-income housing opportunities or by increasing the level of assistance given to Palo Alto’s lower-income families. The city must also work to make it easier for low-income housing to be arranged and secured legally to prevent easy closure of affordable housing like Buena Vista.