Google Pledges $1 Billion for Affordable Housing in the Bay Area

Posted on June 18, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Google with 27 Comments

Google said today that it would invest $1 billion over the next 10 years to address the chronic shortage of affordable housing options in the Bay Area. The move mirrors—and doubles—an earlier Microsoft initiative related to affordable housing in the Seattle area.

“Google is one of the Bay Area’s largest employers,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai explains in a new post to the Inside Google blog. “Across the region, one issue stands out as particularly urgent and complex: housing. 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. As Google grows throughout the Bay Area—whether it’s in our home town of Mountain View, in San Francisco, or in our future developments in San Jose and Sunnyvale—we’ve invested in developing housing that meets the needs of these communities.”

To further these efforts, Google is now committing to the following:

  • Over the next 10 years, Google will repurpose at least $750 million of its land, most of which is currently zoned for office or commercial space, as residential housing. This, it says, will 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.
  • Google will establish a $250 million investment fund so that it can incentivize developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the area.
  • Google will give $50 million in grants through Google.org to nonprofits focused on homelessness and displacement. This is in addition to the $18 million in grants the firm has already provided over the past five years.

“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,” Mr. Pichai continues. “Solving a big issue like the housing shortage will take collaboration across business, government and community organizations, and we look forward to working alongside others to make the Bay Area a place where everyone who lives here can thrive.”

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Comments (27)

27 responses to “Google Pledges $1 Billion for Affordable Housing in the Bay Area”

  1. nicholas_kathrein

    This is great. Housing is so hard to find and prices are out of control. I'm sure even Google's own employees struggle with driving hours or spending most their paychecks on housing.

  2. Lordbaal

    That comes out to $50,000 a house.

    In what world do they live in that they think construction is that cheap?

  3. X911ty12

    Create a problem. "Fix" the problem. Profit.

  4. melinau

    UK faces the same problem: houses are (relatively) plentiful and cheap where there are no jobs, scarce & expensive where the jobs are! I too thought Google was a Cloud company.

    The 'Virtual Office' seems to have gone the same way as its 'Paperless' predecessor. Whatever happened to all that home-working that technology was going to enable?

    This situation is ridiculous

  5. waethorn

    No doubt they'll turn it into a "Smart City" with free WiFi to further monetize the slaves.

  6. Pbike908

    It's a start...the tech companies have caused economic havoc in many areas leading to income inequality throughout America...


    Not sure what the answer is, however, it's PAST TIME for big tech to step up versus paying lip service at best to these issues...

    • wright_is

      In reply to Pbike908:

      Not just America. In fact, Google were booed out of a Berlin suburb, where they wanted to start an incubator, but the area has already seen skyrocketing rent increases, without Google coming in...

      Although this might be moot, Berlin has announced a 5 year rent freeze.

  7. rm

    Too many people in that area, not enough resources. Time to have some companies relocate. That would solve issues even faster.

  8. codymesh

    so...20,000 units on their own campus where 3.5 million units are needed

  9. wright_is

    I thought Google was a cloud company? And that cloud meant you can work anywhere?

    Why are they concentrating all their employees in high price, low availability areas? Why not spread out over the country, spreading the risk and the wealth?

  10. anderb

    Quick! Cancel that antitrust exploration! These are very fine people.

  11. jbinaz

    It's a worthwhile goal, and I hope it works. I fear the law of unintended consequences will come into play, though, and the problem won't get much better.

  12. Bats

    LOL....let's be clear and honest about San Francisco. It's unsafe and full of smelly, ugly looking, bums. Some of them, are even YOUNG!!!! I would say they are in their mid-twenties in age. I thought their local and state governments are doing things about this? After all, aren't these people getting free healthcare from them? Didn't California politicians promise them this stuff already? LOL....what the heck in Nancy Pelosi doing? Why does Google have to do this? Last I check, San Francisco (and other parts of the Bay Area) is still called that and not "New Paris."

    • X911ty12

      In reply to Bats:

      You don't like people using the sidewalks as toilets?

    • skane2600

      In reply to Bats:

      I suspect the number of people in the streets increased significantly as tech moved in and raised the cost of living.

    • jim_may

      In reply to Bats:

      Agreed!

      San Fran used to be one best city's in the US now it's a Cesspool of sewage run by sloppy bureaucrats. You can get arrested for handing out a drinking straw in a restaurant but you can take a dump on the sidewalk in front of that same restaurant, and it's okay. They even have an app to track the human feces around the city so that you can avoid it. Time magazine even had a story about heroin being found in the groundwater. Yes, great city!!!

  13. hrlngrv

    US$1 billion given Bay Area construction costs would produce at most 10,000 new units, so enough for 40,000 people at most. At best a modest start.

    If the US could have reasonable nationwide housing policy, some level of government should impose taxes of up to US$250K per employee on Apple, Google and Facebook until at least half their employees lived and worked at least 500 miles away from the Bay Area. IOW, force companies to disperse rather than allow them to concentrate geographically.

    • skane2600

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      The irony is that decentralizing would probably save them money and they also might start to take advantage of the technologies to enable telecommuting they helped create. They are bleeding edge tech companies with 1950's style management policies.

    • mikes_infl

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      I'm not sure of what other countries might operate that way, but the USA doesn't.

    • Lordbaal

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      Everyone always want to tax the wealthy.

    • ajgisler

      In reply to hrlngrv:We don't need a national housing policy. Only California and maybe NYC have housing shortages. The rest of the US has nowhere near the housing costs of California. The housing shortage is caused by California's draconian NIMBY laws. Example - an owner of a San Francisco laundromat has dried to build a 75 unit apartment building but after years and millions of dollars spent has yet to be approved. Twice he was required to do a study about the effect of shadows on children because the taller building would cast a shadow on a neighboring playground. This isn't the fault of Google, Facebook or any other business. Government housing policies only create housing shortages and often benefit the rich or well connected.


  14. glenn8878

    That's not spendable $1 Billion. It's a promise to use appreciated land it already has, but it won't necessarily create new residential housing. It's only a pledge that they can renege if it just doesn't work out. It's the same with the $250 million investment fund and another $68 million in grants. Unless there's someone watching them, this might not happen. They'll certainly enjoy the tax write-off in any case. They'll pay even less taxes than it does now.

    • ym73

      In reply to glenn8878:

      You don't get a tax writeoff for pledging land. You only get it if you donate it to a charity. If they do build the housing, they will probably still own the land. Land isn't depreciable. They will likely receive rents for the use of the land. So, there is no tax write-off. The land cost will just reduce the gain when the property is sold.
  15. mikes_infl

    Sounds like they're trying to get a tax reduction for "donating" their land for the project. They were going to be stuck with selling it, now they can do better because of their anticipated relocation. Makes good business sense. Not sure about the "Don't be evil" part.

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