Apple pledges $2.5 billion to address California's housing crisis

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Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds reports from Los Angeles.

Apple said it specifically designed the endeavor to accelerate and expand the production of new housing - including to kickstart long-term developments. The company is also committing $300 million to make some of its San Jose land available for affordable housing, creating a $150 million fund for San Francisco Bay Area housing and donating $50 million to Destination: Home in order to foster "systemic change" that reduces homelessness across Silicon Valley.

One wonders what another Lee, public relations pioneer Ivy, who crafted a philanthropic image for John D. Rockefeller, would advise to solve a housing crisis that everyone agrees is severe but is nonetheless utterly divisive. Another $1 billion will be used to provide mortgage assistance for first-time homebuyers. Facebook pledged $1 billion towards the crisis last month, and Google revealed a $1 billion spending plan in June.

The move by Apple follows similar initiatives from Silicon Valley peers Google and Facebook, which each have pledged $ 1 billion for housing programmes. "This partnership with the state of California will do just that - thank you Apple for stepping up", Newsom wrote on Twitter.

Axios reported that most people can't afford the housing in the Bay Area and have to make long commutes to work.

The budget for affordable housing involves opening a line of credit for households with low to moderate income.

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California is grappling with a daunting housing crisis resulting from the lack of affordable homes for millions of people who benefited little from booming high-tech industry in the state.

It's not the first time Sanders has gone after large US companies for their role in perpetuating the housing crisis. Apple's deal with the city to build the campus for 12,000 workers came with few strings attached for it to help pay for affordable housing, despite a huge shortage in the state.

Kevin Zwick of Housing Trust Silicon Valley says there's a growing recognition among these companies that they have to be part of the solution. "I think they're trying to get ahead of that and realizing they're having a big impact on the housing situation".

As Common Dreams reported, Sanders unveiled his "Housing for All" plan in September, promoting an end to homelessness, national rent control, and the construction of 10 million new homes. Apple's current headquarters - a ring of gleaming metal and glass nicknamed the "spaceship" in Cupertino, Calif., - sits less than eight kilometres from the suburban family home where co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak assembled the first Apple computers in the 1970s.

Shulman, of UCLA, said "you need a major relaxation of zoning on the peninsula and that's going to be hard to do given the local opposition to density".

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