Google Donates $1B To Help San Francisco's Housing Crisis


Google was met with outrage previous year when it was reported that the company may have been looking to get back into the search engine business in China.

Sundar Pinchai, Google's current CEO, announced in a blog post indicating that the effort is part of their responsibility as "a good neighbor", and also to address the growing housing issue that resulted from the tech company's fast-paced growth.

The process to rezone territories is already underway, according to Pichai who said the company has already worked with city officials in Mountain View and are in the midst of talking to leaders in Sunnyvale and San Jose.

Google is lending a helping hand as it draws up plans to expand into sprawling offices beyond its headquarters in Mountain View, California.

The Bay Area has long struggled to meet its housing needs.

Google said over the next 10 years, it would repurpose at least $750 million of its land, most of which is now zoned for office or commercial space, as residential housing. Last week, a report by Working Partnerships called upon Google to build more than 17,000 homes in the area to help offset the anticipated price increases caused by the new campus. "We hope this plays a role in addressing the chronic shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low-income residents", he wrote.

"We work hard to get right, and every few years we feel the need to evolve them because we see changes in how the platform is getting used", Pichai said in response to a question from CNN.

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Google said it'll repurpose $750 million worth of its land, which is now zoned for commercial and office space, to build 15,000 residential homes. He noted that just 3,000 homes were built in the South Bay area a year ago.

Google's investment is a "needle-mover", said Matt Regan, senior vice-president of housing policy for the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

Google, the largest unit of the Alphabet holding company, also pledged a $250 million investment fund providing incentives to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the market.

A lot of details about Google's housing project are fuzzy at the moment.

20,000 homes will not be enough to resolve the crisis in the Bay Area but it is a start. "I hope today's announcement inspires other companies - big and small - to make similar direct investments in housing affordability throughout our state". "I applaud Google's leadership for stepping forward to build affordable homes", Newsom said in a statement through his office.

"In the coming months, we'll continue to work with local municipalities to support plans that allow residential developers to build quickly and economically", Pichai says.