Facebook pledges $1 billion toward affordable housing in California

Facebook built a multi-billion dollar business on the back of social networking. Now the Menlo Park tech giant is lending its financial broad shoulders to helping solve the California housing crisis.
“It’s a continuum. It’s not new. It’s scaling what we’ve done in the past, where we saw benefits from our interventions,” said Menka Sethi, Facebook’s Location Strategy Director.
She says the company began its foray into housing in 2016 to explore possible pitfalls. Now, Facebook is pledging $1 billion to construct 20,000 units of housing state-wide over the next decade.
The tech giant says $250 million is designated for mixed-income housing on excess state land and $150 million for affordable housing. Another $225 million, this time in Menlo Park land, earmarked for affordable housing. And $25 million to build teacher and essential worker housing in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties
“If this is gonna be an effective deployment of capitol, it’s important this be true philanthropy and real money on the ground assistance and not another investment scheme,” said Prof. Kelly Snider, a regional and urban planning expert at San Jose State University.
Housing and urban planning experts say over this decade, the Bay Area has created only one new unit of housing for every 10 new jobs. The result has pushed the price of housing skyward and forced many middle-class families to leave. Advocates say Facebook and other tech giants such as Google can make a dent in the problem with large donations, coupled with partnerships with community members to address the housing shortage.
“This is critical. It means a range of income level people can stay in our communities.,” said Duane Bay, Executive Director of EPACANDO, an affordable housing organization. Added Sethi, “The urgency to step up now and solve the big problems, it felt real and we felt we could help, and so here we are.”
There is $350 million being held in reserve for future commitments. The question now: How fast can the multiple municipalities act?