Facebook Pledges $1 Billion for California Housing

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook said on Tuesday it would give $1 billion in a package of grants, loans and land toward easing California’s severe housing crunch by building an estimated 20,000 new housing units for middle- and lower-income households.

The move is the latest in a series of efforts by technology companies to put their vast financial resources toward addressing a crisis that has afflicted tech centers including the Bay Area and Seattle. In June Google pledged $1 billion in a similar effort in the Bay Area, while Microsoft pledged $500 million toward affordable housing in Seattle in January.

Facebook said in a statement that the money would be used over the next decade. The package includes these elements: a $250 million partnership with the State of California for mixed-income housing on state land, $150 million for subsidized and supportive housing for homeless people in the Bay Area, $250 million worth of land near its headquarters in Menlo Park, and $25 million for teacher housing in the Silicon Valley, along with $350 million that the company said would be spent based on the effectiveness of the programs.

“Our investment will go toward creating up to 20,000 new housing units to help essential workers such as teachers, nurses and first responders live closer to the communities that rely on them,” the statement said.

The steep cost of housing in California, which politicians colloquially refer to as “the housing crisis,” has come to cloud nearly all aspects of life across the state. Despite having some of the highest wages in the nation, the state has an escalating homeless problem and the highest poverty rate — with about one in five households living below the federal poverty line — once the cost of housing is figured in.

[Read more about the rise of homelessness in California, and the backlash.]

Legislators have spent the past several years passing new initiatives to help ease the shortage, including several billion dollars to build new affordable housing and a new statewide rent cap that Governor Gavin Newsom helped broker in the State Legislature and signed earlier this month. Despite all this, legislators and the governor say it will take 10 or more years to have any material impact on a housing situation that has been decades in the making but has been heavily exacerbated by the technology boom.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.