Google invests $1 billion to ease housing shortage near California headquarters

Google invests $1 billion to ease housing shortage near California headquarters”

Google's next big project will be in the Bay Area's most populous city, San Jose, where it plans to build a corporate campus consisting of offices and housing where 15,000 to 20,000 of its employees will work and live.

"As we work to build a more helpful Google, we know our responsibility to help starts at home", Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, wrote in Tuesday's blog announcement. The remaining $250 million will create an investment fund to offer developers incentives to build 5,000 affordable homes throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

As part of that effort, the internet company plans to convert at least $750 million of its own land, now zoned for office or commercial space, to support 15,000 homes, according to a blog post from Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

"We hope this plays a role in addressing the chronic shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low-income residents", Pichai wrote.

A recent analysis of Census Bureau data showed that the population of the San Francisco Bay Area had risen more than 8%, or 600,000 people, since 2010.

The company also pledged an additional $50m in grants through to not-for-profit groups focused on homelessness and displacement.

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"For several months, we have encouraged Google to make a bold commitment to address our region's affordable housing challenge", said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, according to CNBC. Some longtime area residents and lower-paid Google workers have had to look for alternatives to paying steep rental costs.

As for a timeline, Google is aiming to begin building "immediately" and wants "homes to be available in the next few years", the executive said. "That's going to require a multifaceted commitment by a lot more entities, primarily local governments, to match what Google has done". In pledging to support the development of 20,000 units, Google is vowing to take care of 68% of the 29,500 new homes the area is estimated to need each year.

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

Google is also facing intense scrutiny more broadly as a company, so a pledge to help ease the housing crisis could also be an attempt to help improve public sentiment.

"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. The company is already looking to free up land for housing in Mountain View, Calif., where Google-parent Alphabet is based, and it's in "productive conversations" with cities Sunnyvale and San Jose to do the same.

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