Apple pledges $2.5B to address California housing crisis

Apple on Monday announced a $2.5 billion plan to help address the housing availability and affordability crisis in California. 

Plus, Apple will also provide $200 million to support new lower-income housing and help some of the most vulnerable populations in the Bay Area. Apple 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.

“Apple brings the same innovative thinking to improving communities that they commit to everything they do, to the great benefit of the people of San Jose. Apple’s comprehensive approach will help kick-start important developments," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. 

The Cupertino-based company, where employees make ample salaries and enjoy free lunches and other perks on the tech campus, note that community members like teachers, firefighters, first responders and service workers are increasingly having to make the difficult choice to leave behind increasingly gentrified neighborhoods they have long called home.

“It’s gonna create a lot of housing and hopefully inspire a lot more people to get involved too,” said Kevin Zwick, the CEO of Housing Trust Silicon Valley.

That non-profit is slated to get 150 million dollars as part of Apple’s over record-setting gift. Executives hope to infuse on-going efforts will more working capital, to make a larger impact in areas afflicted with a lack of affordable housing, and rampant homelessness.

“You can’t throw money at a problem. This is what I’m seeing with homelessness particularly, and not follow where it’s going. Where it ends up,” said Pastor Scott Wagers, a South Bay homeless advocate and the director of CHAM Ministries.

Nearly 30,000 people left San Francisco between April and June of this year and homeownership in the Bay Area is at a seven-year low.

“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, said in a statement. “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 the other tech behemoths first jumped into the housing fray, donating money and real estate to help ease these problems. In June, Google donated $1 billion to help build 20,000 homes in the Bay Area and in less than a month ago, Facebook also pledged $1 billion.

But some who staff the front lines in this feast or famine reality say tech helped create the shortage, and it’s about time it did the heavy lifting towards a solution..

“If Google and Apple want to turn it around, they have to contribute more, and they have to see how the economics work,” said Wagers.

On Sunday, the Bay Area News Group looked into Silicon Valley land ownership patterns and found that Apple has done little to help. Apple's announcement came a day after the in-depth story was published. 

Apple’s commitment to the state of California includes:

  • $1 billion affordable housing investment fund: The $1 billion commitment to the state of California is a first-of-its-kind affordable housing fund that will provide the state and others with an open line of credit to develop and build additional new, very low- to moderate-income housing faster and at a lower cost.
  • $1 billion first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund: Working with the state, this first-time homebuyer fund will provide aspiring homebuyers with financing and down payment assistance. Apple and the state will explore strategies to increase access to first-time homeownership opportunities for essential service personnel, school employees and veterans.
  • $300 million Apple-owned land will be available for affordable housing: Apple intends to make available land it owns in San Jose worth approximately $300 million for the development of new affordable housing.
  • $150 million Bay Area housing fund: In a public-private partnership, Apple is launching a new $150 million affordable housing fund with partners including Housing Trust Silicon Valley to support new affordable housing projects. The fund will consist of long-term forgivable loans and grants.
  • $50 million to support vulnerable populations: Apple will donate $50 million to support Destination: Home’s efforts to address homelessness in Silicon Valley. Apple will focus its contribution on driving systemic change across the many factors affecting homelessness. Apple will also be identifying similar efforts in Northern and Southern California, focusing on strategies that both end and prevent homelessness.

California's governor was pleased. The money will be executed in partnership with his officie and other local Bay Area organizations. 

“I hope other companies follow their lead,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “The sky-high cost of housing — both for homeowners and renters — is the defining quality-of-life concern for millions of families across this state, one that can only be fixed by building more housing. This partnership with Apple will allow the state of California to do just that.”

The funding commitment to California is expected to take approximately two years. Capital returned to Apple will be reinvested in future projects over the next five years, the company said.

 Apple is also working to identify private developers who are ready to start construction on affordable housing projects in the Bay Area immediately.