The housing affordability crisis in the Bay Area is causing many small businesses to lose the most important part of their operations: their employees.
“The money pressures ate them alive,” Frank Ford, who founded Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto with his partner Richard Johnston in 1969, told SiliconValley.com. Johnston reportedly added that the housing pressures are “killing us.”
The duo added that they’ve lost nearly one-third of their staff due to the cost of living in the Bay Area. Silicon Valley notes that RealFacts found that in the first quarter of 2016, the average rent in Santa Clara County was $2,654, $2,503 in San Jose, $2,959 in Oakland and $3,595 in San Francisco.
Even with their middle-class incomez, Gryphon employees can’t afford to live in the area. The tech boom has been causing a rise in housing costs for years. Many San Francisco restaurants are also experiencing a drain on their culinary talents for the same reason.
Gryphon’s owners told SiliconValley.com that they receive many callers who are interested in working with the shop but when they hear about the housing situation they realize it is impossible for them to move there. The shop currently has 17 employees, including 13 full-time staff who reportedly receive medical and dental insurance and are enrolled in a retirement plan.
A 2013 study launched by the U.S. Census Bureau reportedly found that 115,000 commuters traveled 90 or more minutes to get to their jobs in the San Francisco-Oakland and San Jose metropolitan areas. The cost of commuting is also a burden and not everyone is able to afford a car. Public transportation costs also add up.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has suggested building more affordable housing units so that moderate and middle-income workers can better afford to live there. However, the San Francisco Chronicle points out that affordable housing advocates are opposed to that idea because they think “that low-income folks deserve help while middle-income types are a bunch of entitled young jerks who already have enough going for them.”
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz