Published: Thu, June 20, 2019
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Google To Drop $1B In Bay Area Housing Amid Tech Backlash

Google To Drop $1B In Bay Area Housing Amid Tech Backlash

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other local companies in January said they will raise $500 million to help fight the Bay Area housing crisis.

Google is planning on expanding in San Jose, CNBC reported. It also comes following recent proposals by the company to expand its headquarters in Mountain View, and add new offices in San Jose, much to the chagrin of community organizations.

Google plans to repurpose at least $750 million worth of the company's land that is now zoned for office or commercial space to be used for the development of 15,000 new homes.

Though Shanti Singh, communications coordinator with the not-for-profit Tenants Together, applauded Google for its investment, she questioned why only a quarter of the company's overall pledge would go toward affordable 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.

"Heartened to see Google's commitment once again, to affordable housing", he said.

The skyrocketing prices in this part of the U.S. have also led to an outflux of people toward more affordable inland areas like Sacremento. We still don't know where they'll be located, the kind of homes that'll be built, and most importantly, Google won't be building the affordable housing units by itself.

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The tech giant will re-purpose $750 million of its own land for residential use, allowing the development of at least 15,000 new homes, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said in a blog post on Tuesday.

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. Google also said it will give $50 million in grants through Google.org to nonprofits focused on the issues of homelessness and displacement.

The project faced resistance from community activists anxious about its effect on housing prices.

Google aims to work with local authorities to cut through red tape and clear a path for developers to build homes as soon as possible. The tech giant said its already made progress in freeing up available land in its home city of Mountain View. From 2007 to 2014, the nine counties of the Bay Area permitted just 57% of the number of units needed to meet population growth, Regan explained.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Poppy Harlow, Pichai said Google is not actively working on a new Chinese search engine, though he acknowledged that Google isn't about to ignore the country and its hundreds of millions of internet users. "I hope today's announcement inspires other companies - big and small - to make similar direct investments in housing affordability throughout our state".

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