Google pledges $1 billion toward Bay Area housing crisis

Marco Green
June 19, 2019

Google plans to convert at least $750 million of its own land into real estate to support 15,000 residential housing units.

Google says it wants to ease the housing problem in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the tech giant has been headquartered for the past two decades. While the industry continues to grow at exponential rates, affordable housing has not been built to meet the need - the Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimates that 200,000 people are forced to commute into the Bay Area each day from as far out as the Central Valley because they can not afford to live anywhere else.

That is making it impossible for people on the lower end of the economic spectrum to buy a home in the Bay Area, where a mid-priced house sold for $990,000 in April, according to the California Association of Realtors, a trade group.

Google, the largest unit of the Alphabet holding company, also pledged a $250 million investment fund providing incentives to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the market.

A recent analysis of Census Bureau data showed that the population of the San Francisco Bay Area had risen more than 8%, or 600,000 people, since 2010. Furthermore, Google will be offering up a total of $50 million in grants to any nonprofits who focus on the "issues of homelessness and displacement". The lack of new supply, combined with the rising cost of living, has resulted in a severe shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low-income residents. "We look forward to working with Google to ensure today's announcement manifests into housing that will benefit thousands of San Jose residents struggling under the burden of high rents". "That's going to require a multifaceted commitment by a lot more entities, primarily local governments, to match what Google has done".

Pichai said the company will start construction immediately to make homes available in the next few years.

Google joins other technology companies that have pledged to help create more affordable housing around Silicon Valley, where home prices have skyrocketed as the tech sector has grown.

Pichai said Google had previously invested in housing in areas where it has operations.

"Our goal is to help communities succeed over the long term and make sure that everyone has access to opportunity, whether or not they work in tech", Pichai wrote.

On June 12 community members picketed outside San Jose City Hall, citing a new report showing Google's presence in the downtown area will exacerbate the housing shortage.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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