July 26, 2019
Tech giant Google last week pledged to contribute land and capital valued at one billion dollars toward the goal of ameliorating the affordable housing crisis that has plagued the San Francisco Bay Area for many years.
In a company blog post, CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Google will repurpose for residential use land the company owns in the Bay Area that is currently zoned for commercial or industrial purposes. The land, which has an estimated value of $750 million, is expected to accommodate 15,000 or more new homes targeted at low and middle-income households.
In addition, Pichai committed $250 million to be invested in a special fund that will provide incentives to home developers to build affordable housing. These incentives are expected to impact the building of at least 5,000 affordable housing units in the area.
Finally, Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, will donate $50 million, in the form of grants, to not-for-profit organizations focused on aiding the homeless and those who have been displaced.
The Bay Area’s affordable housing shortage was exacerbated over the past couple of decades by growth of the hi-tech sector. The influx of high-paid workers employed by the likes of Google and Facebook put excessive upward pressure on home prices across the region, forcing thousands into homelessness.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has appealed to tech companies to help fight the state’s housing crisis. In San Francisco alone, more than 7,000 people are homeless, according to a recent survey. In his blog post, Pichai stated, "We hope this plays a role in addressing the chronic shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low-income residents."
Google is not alone in the fight against homelessness along the USA’s west coast. Facebook, for example, is involved in a partnership that hopes to raise over $500 million to support the cause. And Microsoft has pledged $500 million to help make homes more affordable in its headquarters city of Seattle.
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