What’s Happening: Facebook has announced that it will dedicate $150 million to build 2,000 units of affordable housing for low-income residents in the Bay Area.
The Download: In the Bay Area, tech companies have come under scrutiny for their role in driving up rents and home prices, causing one of the country’s most dire housing shortages. While remote working during the pandemic has driven down rents in San Francisco, pricing and homelessness remain high. California governor Gavin Newsom called on tech companies last year to loan money in a fund to build housing across the country, which led to Google and Apple formulating similar housing investment initiatives.
Facebook is now following suit by allocating $150 million to support the development of 2,000 affordable homes for families making less than 30 percent of the Bay Area’s median income of $143,100. The company expects to fund at least five projects in the next year, and plans to distribute the entire fund by 2026. The allocation forms part of Facebook’s larger $1 billion commitment to California, which will create 20,000 housing units for essential workers. Facebook is also investing in Factory_OS, a company that works to reduce housing construction costs.
In Their Own Words: “Since Facebook committed $1 billion to help address the affordable housing crisis one year ago, this work has only become more imperative as the pandemic has heightened the challenges for people already struggling with the cost of housing,” David Wehner, Facebook’s chief financial officer, wrote in a press release. “This fund will help fill a critical gap in California, where there is an immense shortage of extremely low-income housing and very few dedicated funding streams to build it.”
“There’s no better time to put this money to work,” Newsom said in a statement. “The Covid-19 crisis demands that we all step up and do more to protect the most vulnerable. I challenge other private sector corporations to follow suit and provide additional low-cost capital to create thousands more homeless housing units all across California.”
Surface Says: While it’s reassuring to see tech giants step up to address a housing hell of their own making, there’s more work to do. This especially goes for Facebook, a juggernaut that brings in nearly $70 billion in annual revenue and illegally crushes competition.