Tech companies take on the affordable housing problem
- January 1, 2020: Vol. 7, Number 1

Tech companies take on the affordable housing problem

by Andrea Zander

Affordable housing has become a critical topic in California — and several technology giants have pledged billions of dollars to fund its development.

In June, Google announced the investment of $1 billion in housing across the San Francisco Bay Area. In October, Facebook announced plans to commit $1 billion to help address the affordable housing crisis in California, and in other communities that have similar challenges.

Not to be outdone, Apple announced in November the investment of $2.5 billion to help address the housing availability and affordability crisis in California. Apple’s $2.5 billion investment includes:

  • $1 billion in a commitment to the state of California for a first-of-its-kind affordable housing fund that will provide the state and others with an open line of credit to develop and build low-cost housing.
  • $1 billion in a first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund to provide aspiring homebuyers with financing and down payment assistance.
  • $300 million in Apple-owned land in San Jose for the development of new affordable housing.
  • $200 million to support new lower-income housing and help some of the most vulnerable populations in the Bay Area: In a public-private partnership, Apple is launching a new $150 million affordable housing fund with partners including Housing Trust Silicon Valley to support new affordable housing projects.

Facebook’s $1 billion investment includes:

  • $250 million to a partnership with the State of California for mixed-income housing on excess state-owned land in communities where housing is scarce.
  • $150 million for production of affordable housing, including housing for the homeless, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • $225 million in land in Menlo Park, Calif. Facebook previously purchased the land, which is now zoned for housing. It will produce more than 1,500 units of mixed-
    income housing.
  • $25 million to build teacher and essential worker housing on public land for school districts in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
  • $350 million in funds for additional commitments based on the rollout and effectiveness of the initiatives described above. These funds will also be used to support more affordable housing in other communities where Facebook has offices.

Google’s $1 billion investment includes:

  • $750 million of Google-owned land, most of which is currently zoned for office or commercial space, repurposed as residential housing over the next decade to support the development of at least 15,000 new homes.
  • $250 million in an investment fund that will provide incentives to enable developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the market.

“Access to more affordable housing for all families is key to addressing economic inequality and restoring social mobility in California and beyond,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement announcing the Facebook investment. “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. Public-private partnerships around excess land is an important component in moving us forward.”


Andrea Zander is web content editor of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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