Google commits over $100M of affordable housing pledge
Google has allocated $115 million out of a $250 million investment fund for affordable housing projects in the Bay Area.
The Mountain View tech giant said that the $115 million commitment should help fund the creation of at least 24,000 affordable units by 2029, with the majority of using modular construction. The company pledged $1 billion for affordable housing in the region last year; the majority, it said, would come from efforts to rezone Google-owned real estate valued at more than $750 million to allow for the development of housing projects.
Despite plummeting rent prices in the region caused by the economic crisis and coronavirus pandemic, the Bay Area remains hugely expensive, and local government investment in affordable housing depends on tax revenue that will likely slump this year.
The pandemic has made investment in affordable housing even more urgent for Google, said Michael Appel, a Google spokesman.
Facebook also pledged $1 billion last year to help build affordable housing in the region, and last week Apple announced a $400 million commitment, part of a similar $2.5 billion pledge last fall. Local leaders have blamed the tech giants for contributing to the region's affordable housing crisis.
Some of Google's newly allocated funds will be directed to Factory_OS, a modular housing company, to help the company build a second factory to double production capacity, according to a statement from Rebecca Prozan, the company's Bay Area housing policy lead. Modular homes are prefabricated buildings made up of sections that are built beforehand and then put together onsite, which developers say reduces costs and construction duration.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a project for 145 supported modular apartments built by Factory_OS on July 1, in the first approval for this kind of construction for affordable housing in the city. Modular housing development has faced resistance from construction unions in the city because some jobs are located elsewhere.
"It's faster and less expensive than conventional construction, two characteristics that are often unheard of in California's housing industry. So, we're looking into modular housing options for our investments," Prozan wrote in the statement.
Google also committed another $50 million out of the $115 million to nonprofit Housing Trust Silicon Valley — on top of a $50 million investment last year — as the second of the two new major investments announced Thursday. This new pledge helped create an initiativethat will allow Google and the Housing Trust to invest in a range of projects that should help create about 4,000 affordable units, Appel said.
The initiative has already invested in two new affordable housing developments intended to create 150 homes, one in San Jose and another in Newark, according to a statement from the Housing Trust. Google's previous investments in the Housing Trust led to pre-development lending for several affordable housing projects in San Jose and Berkeley, according to the Housing Trust.
Google.org has distributed $7.75 million in grant funding to Bay Area nonprofits that address housing and other services in the past year.
Google has submitted its plan for affordable housing rezoning in San Jose, which is part of its massive proposal for new housing and offices near Diridon Station. Google expects that the community evaluation and discussion process for that plan will begin in the fall and culminate in a vote in the spring of 2021, according to Appel.
The company is also working with officials in Mountain View to prepare a proposal for rezoning of some of that land in the coming months, he added.