Facebook is the latest big tech company to pledge money to address the shortage of affordable housing affecting the communities its workers live in. The company says it’s committing $1 billion towards a variety of initiatives meant to tackle the problem, following similar pledges by Google and Microsoft.
The initiatives come at a time when the government is struggling to get its head around an affordable housing crisis that’s most keenly felt in some of the nation’s most prosperous cities, including San Francisco and Seattle. With federal funding for low-income housing programs rapidly stagnating, tech firms such as Facebook are taking it upon themselves to step up and do something about it.
And they probably have a moral obligation to do so, as the companies certainly contribute towards the problem. Facebook, Google, Microsoft and other firms typically pay huge salaries to out-of-town workers who need housing and are often able to afford high than average rates. That, combined with restrictive zoning measures, low supply of housing and other issues, has led to a serious problem with many other people in those cities finding themselves unable to find suitable homes to rent or buy.
Facebook said it will spend $1 billion on a variety of initiatives to combat the problem, including $250 million on a partnership with the State of California to build mixed-income housing on state-owned land in the communities that need it most.
$150 million will go towards the Bay’s Future Fund, which will construct more affordable homes in San Francisco. And $220 million worth of previously purchased land near Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters has been earmarked to build more than 1,500 units of mixed-income housing.
The company will also donate $25 million towards the construction of homes on county-owned land that will be set aside for teachers and other essential workers in San Francisco.
The remaining $350 million will be used for “additional commitments based on the rollout and effectiveness” of the above initiatives. Some of that money will also be used to support affordable housing in other communities where Facebook has offices, it said. They include Seattle, where Facebook has around 5,000 employees.
The $1 billion pledge is double what Microsoft has committed to spending on its own affordable housing initiative announced in January, and matches the $1 billion that Google intends to invest in solutions to the Bay Area housing crisis. Other big tech firms, including Amazon and Salesforce, have also made their own commitments this year.