A startup aims to stop gentrification, with help from the tech industry
If the headline on this article made your eyes burn with fire, and your fingers twitch to comment without reading further, then you’re in the majority. The relationship between Silicon Valley’s tech industry and economic inequality in the Bay Area is an incendiary issue, as civic tech leader Catherine Bracy is all too aware. She came to Ars Technica Live to talk about her vision for a future where people in Oakland celebrate when a new tech company comes to town. With her startup TechEquity Collaborative, she’s showing techies what they can do to help their neighbors benefit from the tech economy as much as they have.
Bracy’s first message to the packed crowd was that we shouldn’t blame techies for the housing crisis. She said she’d had to overcome her own prejudices to make that realization. When Uber announced they were buying the historic Sears Building in Oakland, where Bracy lives, she said she had to struggle not to get angry. She worried that her neighborhood would be less brown, and that there would be a wave of housing displacement like the one San Francisco has already experienced. But after years of working on civic-minded tech projects like Code for America, and founding nonprofit TechEquity several years ago, she’s come to a new understanding.