Google has provided $ 115 million from a $ 250 million mutual fund for affordable housing projects in the Bay Area.
Mountain View's technology giant said the $ 115 million pledge should help fund the creation of at least 24,000 affordable units by 2029, with the majority being modular. The company pledged $ 1 billion last year for affordable housing in the region. The majority, it said, would stem from efforts to reclassify more than $ 750 million of Google-owned real estate to enable residential development.
Despite falling rents in the region caused by the economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, the Bay Area remains extremely expensive and local government investment in affordable housing is dependent on tax revenues, which are likely to decrease 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 build affordable housing in the region. Last week, Apple announced a $ 400 million pledge, which is part of a similar pledge of $ 2.5 billion last fall. Local leaders have accused the technology giants of contributing to the region's affordable housing crisis.
A portion of Google’s newly allocated funds will be channeled to Factory_OS, a modular housing company, to help the company build a second factory to double production capacity. This is stated in a statement by Rebecca Prozan, the head of housing policy in the company's Bay Area. Modular houses are prefabricated buildings that consist of sections that are built in advance and then assembled on site. Developers say that this reduces costs and construction time.
The San Francisco regulator approved on July 1 a project for 145 supported modular homes built by Factory_OS. This was the first permit for this type of construction for affordable housing in the city. The modular housing development met with resistance from construction unions in the city, as some jobs are located elsewhere.
"It is faster and less expensive than traditional designs, two features that are often unknown in the California housing industry, so we're considering modular housing for our investments," Prozan wrote in the statement.
Google has also committed an additional $ 50 million of the $ 115 million to Silicon Valley Nonprofit Housing Trust, in addition to a $ 50 million investment last year – as the second of two major new investments announced on Thursday were. This new promise has helped create an initiative that will allow Google and the Housing Trust to invest in a number of projects designed to help create around 4,000 affordable units, Appel said.
The initiative has already invested in two new affordable housing developments to create 150 homes, one in San Jose and one in Newark, according to a Housing Trust statement. According to the Housing Trust, Google's previous investments in the Housing Trust resulted in loans for several affordable housing projects in San Jose and Berkeley being developed.
Google.org last year distributed $ 7.75 million in grants to nonprofits in the Bay Area that deal with housing and other services.
Google has unveiled its plan to rededicate affordable housing in San Jose as part of its massive proposal for new homes and offices near Diridon Station. Google expects the community evaluation and discussion process for this plan to begin in the fall and culminate in a vote in the spring of 2021, according to Appel.
The company is also working with Mountain View officials to develop a proposal to rededicate part of this country in the coming months, he added.