Exacerbated by the tech boom, San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area faces a chronic housing problem. Noting its position as one the area’s largest employers, Google today announced a $1 billion investment to help build 20,000 homes.

Penned by Sundar Pichai, Google’s plan involves two initiatives. The first will see the company repurpose at least $750 million of Google-owned land into residential housing. Currently zoned for office and commercial space, this will create at least 15,000 new Bay Area homes.

Across the region, one issue stands out as particularly urgent and complex: housing. The lack of new supply, combined with the rising cost of living, has resulted in a severe shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low income residents.

The company did not breakdown the housing mix, but touted “all income levels,” including “housing options for middle and low-income families.” Google hopes to address the “chronic shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low income residents.” Areas include Google’s hometown of Mountain View, San Francisco, and future campus expansions in San Jose and Sunnyvale.

The second part sees the creation of a $250 million investment fund to incentivize “developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the market.”

Google.org will also give $50 million in grants to nonprofits working on homelessness and displacement.

This builds on the $18 million in grants we’ve given to help address homelessness over the last five years, including $3 million we gave to the newly opened SF Navigation Center and $1.5 million to affordable housing for low income veterans and households in Mountain View.

In terms of a timeline, Google wants “housing construction started immediately,” with homes “available in the next few years.”

In Mountain View, we’ve already worked with the city to change zoning in the North Bayshore area to free up land for housing, and we’re currently in productive conversations with Sunnyvale and San Jose.


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