Apple Commits $2.5 Billion To Combat California Housing Crisis

November 4, 2019
In this June 3, 2019, file photo Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

(Photo credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

CUPERTINO (AP) — Apple has committed $2.5 billion to ease California's housing crisis, eclipsing similar pledges by fellow Silicon Valley giants Google and Facebook to address a lack of affordable housing in the region they call home.

Apple's pledge Monday includes a $1 billion fund to build new homes for households with low to moderate incomes and a $1 billion homebuyer mortgage assistance fund.

It also includes $300 million to make Apple-owned land in San Jose available for affordable housing; a $150 million partnership with a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit to support new affordable housing projects with long-term forgivable loans and grants; and $50 million to address homelessness in the region.

Google and Facebook this year each promised $1 billion to help address high housing costs. It's probably not just philanthropic sentiment that's guiding their efforts, said Andrew Padovani, an economist at the University of California, Davis, who says the high housing costs are making the region a less desirable place to live.

"They're really starting to feel the effects of this," he said. "Trying to hire workers for their campuses in the Bay Area is becoming more expensive. They have to pay workers enough to live in the area."

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday called Apple's pledge an "unparalleled financial commitment to affordable housing," adding he hopes other companies follow its lead. The Democratic governor has urged tech companies to pitch in to ease a crisis in which there are far fewer homes and apartments than necessary to house the state's nearly 40 million people.

The state has also enacted new laws aimed at boosting funding for affordable housing and easing development restrictions.

The Bay Area is that it has been swamped with affluent tech workers, leading to bidding wars for the limited supply of homes in cities like Cupertino, where Apple is headquartered.

Padovani, of University of California, Davis said Apple's investment targeting low-income and affordable housing is well placed, since most developers have sought to build homes at market rates. He said, however, that there are still other challenges, such as local land-use restrictions and the geography of the Bay Area, which limits where homes can be built.