Why Some Minorities Lag Behind in Silicon Valley

There is also a widening gap between the wealthy and poor in the region, and the middle class is also shrinking. Food stamp participation for the region beat a previous decade high of five percent. And while per capita income increased for most people, it went down five percent for Latinos in the region, and a startling 18 percent among blacks.

The housing situation in the Bay Area also paints a bleaker picture for African-Americans and Hispanics than whites and Asians. The former are more likely to rent than the latter, and while homeowners are faring better than they have in years, rent has increased and affordable housing is at an all-time low.

Forbes reported that, according to Movoto, a real estate brokerage based in Silicon Valley, Hispanics accounted for only about six percent of home buyers in 2011, while whites made up 85 percent. And according to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, more than half of Hispanics rent. Competition for rentals is particularly fierce in the Valley, with many young, highly paid tech workers moving to the area and snapping up apartments as the economy picks up speed and companies like Facebook go public. According to the index, "approvals for construction of new affordable housing in 2012 dropped to the lowest levels of the 15-year reporting period, compounding housing affordability challenges for Silicon Valley's middle and lower income residents. The 83 newly approved affordable housing units represented only two percent of total new residential units in 2012, a 68 percent drop from 2011."

Also troubling is the increasing disengagement of young people in the region. High school dropout rates increased from 2010-11, juvenile felony drug offenses edged up, and the percentage of eighth graders scoring at an advanced level on an Algebra test fell for the first time in four years.

"As our economy continues to grow, and as that growth takes on a wider footprint," Hancock wrote, "the 2013 Index challenges us to think more expansively about all the associated challenges, to become more regionally integrated, and to ensure that our growth is more widely shared."

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