The spread of COVID-19 and the lockdowns that followed have had a major impact on the tech world and the ecosystems that make it up. Companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft have all enacted work from home policies with Facebook and Twitter taking it a step further and allowing employees to never have to come into the office again. Some tech workers have taken this as an opportunity to flee expensive cities like San Francisco altogether. For people who have questioned the effectiveness of offices for years, these aggressive work from home policies seem like a step in the right direction, but what impact could remote work, and tech employees moving to less expensive areas, have on Black and brown communities that have already been torn apart by major tech companies?
Perhaps the most well known and egregious example of tech impacting a community is the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2017, University of Toronto professor Richard Florida wrote in Wired, “Tech workers do well financially and bid up housing prices, which takes a toll on everyone else, especially blue-collar and service workers who are increasingly priced out.” Three years later, Florida’s assessment couldn’t be any more spot on. While housing costs have dropped in the Bay Area, median sales are still at nearly one million dollars. Rent prices aren’t much better — in San Francisco, renters need to make $61 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment.