Bianca, a San Jose teen

My parents bought a really small 2 bedroom apartment in the early 2000s on the border of Almaden in a Section 8 neighborhood, which is a really interesting, diverse neighborhood you end up growing up in. We owned our apartment but we didn’t own anything around that, so things became very complicated with what we could and couldn’t do.  It was really hard.

My mom was really active in the community back then because she had to be because it was hard to get anything done. There was a lot of racism too. My childhood best friend was Indonesian and her mom couldn’t read that well. One time she didn’t follow the rules of the pool exactly and she got chewed out by this old lady who embarrassed her at this giant party, I’d never seen my best friends mom cry, and that was the time I did.

When I was in 6th grade we moved into this house that we rent, and it’s a pretty good deal on the rent but it’s hard because my parents don’t want to put money in the house because we don’t own it. We’re trying to find somewhere else to live which is really hard because everything else is crazy expensive, even with a Silicon Valley job. I can hardly imagine what it’s like for someone who doesn’t have that.

Another thing that’s hard is our landlord is practically useless. Our house is falling apart but he won’t do anything. We were actually kind of being poisoned the first year we lived there because cats would poop on the roof of our house and it would float down.

I really think that we should be building up instead of out, especially because of our California setting where wildfires are a part of life. A lot of people don’t like to accept that, but I think really what we need to do is allow the forest more room in nature, and then we also have tighter knit communities with more housing.


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