Dwarfing all other Bay Area tech commitments, Apple on Monday stepped up to fight the California housing crisis in a big way – pledging an unprecedented $2.5 billion to the cause.
Apple’s pledge includes invested and donated funds, as well as real estate, intended to help produce new affordable housing and help first-time homebuyers in the Bay Area and throughout California over the next two years. The move comes on the heels of funding commitments by Google and Facebook – which each pledged $1 billion earlier this year – as local companies increasingly are making an effort to address the housing shortage that’s been exacerbated by the Silicon Valley tech boom.
“Before the world knew the name Silicon Valley, and long before we carried technology in our pockets, Apple called this region home, and we feel a profound civic responsibility to ensure it remains a vibrant place where people can live, have a family and contribute to the community,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a news release. “Affordable housing means stability and dignity, opportunity and pride. When these things fall out of reach for too many, we know the course we are on is unsustainable, and Apple is committed to being part of the solution.”
Pressure for Apple to act had been building for months, after first Google and then Facebook ponied up hefty amounts of money and real estate to address the housing shortage. The Mercury News recently reported – as part of an examination of Silicon Valley land ownership patterns in partnership with KQED, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, NBC Bay Area and other organizations – that Apple for years had remained conspicuously on the sidelines. Some advocates criticized the company for failing to include a meaningful contribution to housing with the construction of its “Spaceship” campus in Cupertino. But with Monday’s announcement, Apple dramatically surpassed both the Google and Facebook pledges.
Apple’s commitment includes two main components, and will be executed in partnership with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and local Bay Area organizations. The first part is a $1 billion investment fund, which will provide an open line of credit to the state and others for the construction of housing for low- to moderate-income families throughout California. The second part is a $1 billion first-time homebuyer assistance program: In partnership with the state, Apple will provide financing and down payment assistance to aspiring homeowners. Apple also will explore other ways to help school employees, veterans and other essential service workers buy homes.
“This unparalleled financial commitment to affordable housing, and the innovative strategies at the heart of this initiative, are proof that Apple is serious about solving this issue,” Newsom wrote in the Apple news release. “I hope other companies follow their lead.”
On top of the $2 billion in housing investments, Apple is making land the company owns in San Jose – worth about $300 million – available for the development of new affordable housing. Apple’s announcement did not specify where that land is, but the company has been scooping up property in North San Jose.
Apple also is providing $200 million to two Bay Area housing organizations. The company is partnering with Housing Trust Silicon Valley to launch a $150 million fund for local affordable housing, using long-term forgivable loans and grants. And Apple is donating $50 million to San Jose-based Destination: Home to combat homelessness in Silicon Valley.
“We’re so grateful that Apple has made this significant philanthropic commitment towards solving Silicon Valley’s growing homelessness crisis,” Destination: Home CEO Jennifer Loving wrote. “Apple’s contribution serves as an example of how Silicon Valley companies can work in partnership with the public and nonprofit sectors to address this huge challenge.”