Thu, Jun 20, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Google vows US$1bn for housing crisis

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Real-estate agents leave a home for sale during a broker open house in San Francisco, California, on April 16.

Photo: AFP

Google on Tuesday pledged to commit more than US$1 billion to help address the severe housing crisis in the region that includes its headquarters and Silicon Valley.

CEO Sundar Pichai announced the initiative, saying that the Internet colossus wants to be “a good neighbor” in the area bursting with technology companies.

The move comes with Silicon Valley firms under pressure over the spike in real-estate prices, lack of affordable housing and growing homeless problem in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The region has attracted thousands of highly paid tech workers that has strained the housing supply and led to an explosion in prices.

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

“Today we’re announcing an additional US$1 billion investment in housing across the Bay Area,” Pichai said in a blog post.

The largest chunk of this would be to “repurpose” over the next 10 years for housing about US$750 million of Google’s land, most of which is zoned for office or commercial space.

“This will enable us to support the development of at least 15,000 new homes at all income levels in the Bay Area, including housing options for middle and low-income families,” he said. “We hope this plays a role in addressing the chronic shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low-income residents.”

Google also pledged a US$250 million investment fund providing incentives to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the market.

An additional US$50 million would be funneled through the company’s philanthropic arm Google.org to nonprofits focused on homelessness and displacement, adding to about US$18 million in grants given over the past five years.

“In the coming months, we’ll continue to work with local municipalities to support plans that allow residential developers to build quickly and economically,” Pichai said. “Our goal is to get housing construction started immediately and for homes to be available in the next few years.”

Earlier this year, companies and organizations pledged about US$500 million for affordable housing in the same region in response to a plea from California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Microsoft Corp, based in Seattle, has pledged US$500 million for a similar initiative.

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