The working poor in the sharing economy

The working poor in San Francisco are often hired as independent contractors via web apps for menial jobs, have no job security, and are forced to live long distances away because the cost of housing is so high. The Sharing Economy is great for those on the top, as it’s quick, easy, and completely depersonalized, but not so great for those who must live of its crumbs.

One neighbor rents her apartment via a web-based home sharing site. She then hires people from another website to do the cleaning. For her this is the “Sharing Economy” in action. It’s all point and click, instant, anonymous, and profitable. But when I pop in to check on things for her when she’s out of town I’m confronted with the reality.

The reality is the working poor. They have roommates, live in trailers or tiny houses, do whatever they can to keep housing costs down. And that’s really what the Tiny House movement is about.

The Tiny House movement is often seen by outsiders as either a novelty for eccentrics, or an aberration that must be stopped before the neighborhood is taken over by Bedouins. But it’s simply a logical response to economic conditions. A significant portion of the population understands that they won’t be owning property anytime soon. They can’t manage rent on a working wage. And they need to stay nearby whatever work is available. So they cobble together a home that satisfies their needs. Such is the reality of the new working class.

Housing prices can’t and won’t keep soaring in the Bay Area. There will be a correction. There always is.

From the comments:

I wonder what the end-game in the Bay Area (and to a lesser degree other expensive-across-the-board metros) will be. As housing gets ever more expensive, when measured as price/wage ratios, a larger % of the population is completely priced out, and the ones that can afford mortgages taking half their post-tax earnings just have all incentives to do everything possible to keep prices of their residences high and over-water.

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