Report paints striking picture of economic, ethnic inequality in Morgan Hill

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A new report by Morgan Hill highlights a stark picture of economic inequality, especially for Latino and Spanish-speaking residents of the city — many who disproportionately suffer from poor housing conditions and food insecurity while dealing with lower incomes. While the report holds no legal sway, local leaders expressed an urgent need to address these disparities in Morgan Hill.

“What we discovered in all of these communities is that we have some high flyers and we have some people that are barely getting by,” said Russell Hancock, CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, which publishes regular reports on the Silicon Valley economy.

The Elevate Morgan Hill economic mobility report, presented Thursday at the city’s economic mobility symposium, came out of a call for Morgan Hill to provide more job and housing resources to low-income and Spanish-speaking residents. The report used a mix of public data, surveys, and pre-existing reports to illustrate the current state of Morgan Hill’s low-income, Latino, and Spanish-speaking populations.

The report found that Spanish speakers were less likely to own a home, have a college degree, and to know where to find resources or connect to the city government. At the same time, they were more likely to have concerns about food scarcity. Half of the Spanish speakers who responded to the surveys made less than $35,000 – considered “extremely low income” in Santa Clara county, where the median income for a single person is $129,000. Latino residents were also eight times more likely to live in overcrowded housing conditions than their white neighbors.

Additionally, for every unit of affordable housing, there are four low wage workers in Morgan Hill illustrating the mismatch between housing need and housing supply.

This profile is consistent with the surrounding area, which has faced stagnant racial and ethnic inequality for decades, said Hancock. “Morgan Hill is right in line with the rest of the Silicon Valley community.”

Despite the similar results to the rest of the region, Edith Ramirez, Assistant City Manager for Morgan Hill who oversaw the report, asserts that the information is important for Morgan Hill. For one, because of the limitations in census data, small communities like Morgan Hill often lack readily available data that would allow them to easily do detailed analysis. This means the report helps paint a clearer picture of Morgan Hill and the needs of its residents, she said.

“Morgan Hill mirrors the rest of Silicon Valley from overall hurt and pain and challenges,” said Ramirez. “What is different is that here in Morgan Hill, we struggle to get resources and get the attention of nonprofits. But the data shows that the need is here.”

She points to a report by United Way that showed that southern Santa Clara County receives less philanthropic aid than the rest of the county and hopes that the report will attract more organizations to collaborate and serve the community.

The report also lays out multiple suggestions to help improve economic mobility in Morgan Hill — from building more extremely low income housing, to improving outreach and efforts to foster a sense of belonging with Spanish speaking and minority residents.

While the recommendations are not binding, Morgan Hill Mayor Mark Turner noted that he plans to find a handful of suggestions to work on with the city council and staff to help improve the situation for economically disadvantaged residents.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, but if we don’t start today, a year from now we’re that much further behind,” he said during the conference. “If we don’t leave here and do something, we’ve just wasted … our (time).”

The full report is available at tinyurl.com/elevatereport.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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