The Silent Victims of Unaffordable Housing

The shelter-in-place mandates introduced during the pandemic have strained many individuals who find themselves with a lot less personal space at home than they enjoyed before Covid. As a result, we have seen a disturbing increase in domestic violence, so much so that some local domestic violence shelters have had to turn people away for lack of space. However, this is not a new story for many Bay Area families; we have seen this phenomenon for years caused by another culprit: Bay Area housing prices. We have heard the painful accounts of those forced to stay with abusive partners and divorcees forced to live with their exes because they cannot afford to rent or buy another residence.

One demographic that has been particularly affected by the high rents is young adults, often nicknamed the “Boomerang Generation” because of the large percentage of them who have returned home to live with parents. This arrangement can be beneficial, with children saving on rent while also contributing to the family’s finances. In healthy families, parents continue to foster independence in their adult children, respecting their privacy and choices. Parents that do not respect boundaries, on the other hand, can psychologically cripple their children for years to come.

Helicopter parents may not stop their controlling ways when adult children move home. Early-career adult children suddenly find themselves with a lot more freedom and many more choices to make, particularly regarding their future careers and family. For example, they may need to try various jobs before finding their fit. They may need to meet a lot of the “wrong” type of guy or girl before they meet the “right” one. Trial-and-error is necessary and healthy. Living at home means that parents will be privy to their children’s choices, and the overprotective ones will nag, maybe harass, and even physically assault their children into choosing what they think is best. Children in such situations become demoralized, lose self-confidence, and harbor long-term resentment against their parents. They are also victims of a type of domestic violence for which there is no shelter.

Bay Area home prices have imprisoned many within the same walls as their abusers. Even though the cost of a San Francisco studio has dropped to $1,895 during the pandemic, that is still too much for many young adults who barely make above minimum wage. And for those who have no recourse but to return home to controlling parents, the only solution is to find a way to set clear boundaries (which is often easier said than done) or stand to suffer. It is a sad situation. Every individual should have the right to get out of harm’s way.

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