Social media company Facebook pledged to put $1 billion into affordable housing Tuesday in an attempt to alleviate the California housing crisis, particularly in Northern California.
The announcement came four months after Google outlined a similar program also amounting to $1 billion dollars. For the past several years contractors for tech companies such as Facebook, Google, and Apple have been pushed hours outside of the Bay Area to find affordable housing. Employees, as well as city service positions such as fire fighters and police officers, have had to commute long distances simply to serve areas where the cost of living has skyrocketed.
Facebook’s pledge in particular notes that they hope to create 20,000 new housing units for “essential workers such as teachers, nurses and first responders” to live nearby the places they serve.
Of the $1 billion pledged, $250 million is set to go to mixed-income housing on excess state-owned land, $150 million has been earmarked for affordable housing in the Bay Area through the Partnership of the Bay’s Future, and $350 million in general set aside for affordable housing developments around the country. In addition, San Mateo and Santa Clara will have $25 million worth of teacher and essential worker housing invested on public land, while Menlo Park, home of Facebook, will get $225 million in affordable housing.
Governor Gavin Newsom praised Facebook’s actions in a statement.
“Access to more affordable housing for all families is key to addressing economic inequality and restoring social mobility in California and beyond,” said Governor Newsom. “State government cannot solve housing affordability alone, we need others to join Facebook in stepping up. Progress requires partnership with the private sector and philanthropy to change the status quo and address the cost crisis our state is facing.”
Sam Liccardo, Mayor of San Jose, whose city is one of the many benefactors of the investment, also praised Facebook in a statement.
“I applaud Facebook for stepping up to make this extraordinary $1 billion commitment toward our collective work to combat this housing crisis,” stated Mayor Liccardo . “As a company that serves billions of customers with thousands of employees throughout the world, it’s uplifting to see Facebook recognize the need in their own backyard.”
However not everyone is excited with the announcement.
“Facebook, and Oracle, and Twitter, Google. They all caused this, “exclaimed Bay Area Housing Advocate Donnie Shepard Jr. “Now that they’re finally giving money, it’s like all is forgiven. They had an obligation for years, before things got as bad as they are now, and they didn’t do it. I guarantee you residents won’t forget this.”
Some of the pledged money has also brought issues. Some money is pledged for already wealthy counties, while the Menlo Park pledged money will be built on land Facebook already owns, meaning they’ll get further tax breaks and other incentives. While it is considered a smart business move, the fact that it wasn’t done sooner has irked some residents.
Whether locals are for or against the investment, it is virtually a done deal. Facebook has pledged for the money to be spread out in building and development over the next ten years, with projects to be decided on soon.