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Facebook donates $20M for East Palo Alto affordable housing

Company partners with local groups, encourages others to contribute to housing solutions

Facebook announced on Friday that it is committing $20 million to help create badly needed affordable housing in East Palo Alto.

The announcement comes at a time when many lower-income residents in East Palo Alto are leaving their city, no longer able to afford the rising rents. The crisis escalated recently as the city cracked down on substandard and illegal housing.

The initial contribution will establish a Catalyst Housing Fund, with $18.5 million for innovative and “scalable” ways to increase development and protect affordable housing. An additional $250,000 will go to Rebuilding Together Peninsula to support the construction and upkeep of homes for low-income residents.

The contribution will also provide $625,000 for local job training in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Facebook will hire a community liaison who will help connect community members with open positions at Facebook, the company said.

"At Facebook, we are proud to call Silicon Valley our home. We are committed to being active and responsible neighbors by supporting the communities near our Menlo Park HQ that have welcomed us since we arrived here in 2011," the company stated.

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The company has formed a partnership with local groups who are dedicated to preserving East Palo Alto's diverse community, whose incomes range from very low income to middle income. The coalition includes Youth United for Community Action, Faith in Action Bay Area, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, Comité de Vecinos del Lado Oeste -- East Palo Alto, the City of East Palo Alto, the City of Menlo Park, and other community groups.

Facebook said the partnership is focused on solving some of the region’s most difficult issues, starting with the creation of more affordable housing.

"This is what our neighbors have told us their community needs most urgently," the company stated.

Facebook hopes the initial $20 million will attract more contributions and partners -- including community groups, philanthropists and companies -- over the next years in order to make a regional impact, the company said.

“We recognize that the situation is a crisis for many of our neighbors and that investments from the Catalyst Fund will take time to result in new units. To provide immediate relief to those facing particularly difficult circumstances, we’re dedicating $500,000 to an assistance fund to provide legal support to tenants threatened with displacement from evictions, unsafe living conditions and other forms of landlord abuse," the company said.

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"Since shortly after Facebook was created, we’ve been part of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. The region -- this community -- is our home. We want the region to remain strong and vibrant and continue a long tradition of helping to build technologies that transform the future and improve the lives of people around the world, and also in our extended neighborhood. We all need to work together to create new opportunities for housing, transportation and employment across the region. We’re committed to join with the community to help."

Sue Dremann
 
Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Facebook donates $20M for East Palo Alto affordable housing

Company partners with local groups, encourages others to contribute to housing solutions

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Dec 2, 2016, 8:47 pm
Updated: Mon, Dec 5, 2016, 8:07 am

Facebook announced on Friday that it is committing $20 million to help create badly needed affordable housing in East Palo Alto.

The announcement comes at a time when many lower-income residents in East Palo Alto are leaving their city, no longer able to afford the rising rents. The crisis escalated recently as the city cracked down on substandard and illegal housing.

The initial contribution will establish a Catalyst Housing Fund, with $18.5 million for innovative and “scalable” ways to increase development and protect affordable housing. An additional $250,000 will go to Rebuilding Together Peninsula to support the construction and upkeep of homes for low-income residents.

The contribution will also provide $625,000 for local job training in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Facebook will hire a community liaison who will help connect community members with open positions at Facebook, the company said.

"At Facebook, we are proud to call Silicon Valley our home. We are committed to being active and responsible neighbors by supporting the communities near our Menlo Park HQ that have welcomed us since we arrived here in 2011," the company stated.

The company has formed a partnership with local groups who are dedicated to preserving East Palo Alto's diverse community, whose incomes range from very low income to middle income. The coalition includes Youth United for Community Action, Faith in Action Bay Area, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, Comité de Vecinos del Lado Oeste -- East Palo Alto, the City of East Palo Alto, the City of Menlo Park, and other community groups.

Facebook said the partnership is focused on solving some of the region’s most difficult issues, starting with the creation of more affordable housing.

"This is what our neighbors have told us their community needs most urgently," the company stated.

Facebook hopes the initial $20 million will attract more contributions and partners -- including community groups, philanthropists and companies -- over the next years in order to make a regional impact, the company said.

“We recognize that the situation is a crisis for many of our neighbors and that investments from the Catalyst Fund will take time to result in new units. To provide immediate relief to those facing particularly difficult circumstances, we’re dedicating $500,000 to an assistance fund to provide legal support to tenants threatened with displacement from evictions, unsafe living conditions and other forms of landlord abuse," the company said.

"Since shortly after Facebook was created, we’ve been part of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. The region -- this community -- is our home. We want the region to remain strong and vibrant and continue a long tradition of helping to build technologies that transform the future and improve the lives of people around the world, and also in our extended neighborhood. We all need to work together to create new opportunities for housing, transportation and employment across the region. We’re committed to join with the community to help."

Comments

Nice
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2016 at 3:05 am
Nice, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2016 at 3:05 am

I hope some of the new Santa Clara Ciunty fund will go toward this effort. I hope there will be an eye toward preventing displacement of existing low income residents.

This is a lovely gesture.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2016 at 8:24 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2016 at 8:24 am

Once again this phrase "affordable housing" is used without definition. What is affordable to a college graduate in a job is not necessarily affordable to a family of 5 who run their own gardening/cleaning business.

Are we talking about rents or purchase price?

And before we start using the same old cliché about teachers, police and firefighters (all extremely necessary in our town) there are many others who are just as worthy to live near where they work. The janitors who clean our schools, the trash collectors, the mail deliverers, the grocery store clerks, etc. etc. etc. have as much value as anyone else when it comes to housing.


be positive
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 3, 2016 at 8:24 am
be positive, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Dec 3, 2016 at 8:24 am

@nce, I agree that this is wonderful, but Menlo park and EPA are both in San Mateo county, not Santa Clara.


Robert
another community
on Dec 3, 2016 at 10:33 am
Robert, another community
on Dec 3, 2016 at 10:33 am

@Resident

I'll go out on a limb and say "affordable" in this case means BMR housing, as market rate housing, which is affordable to those who purchase it, wouldn't need a $20 million donation...


Nice
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2016 at 10:52 am
Nice, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2016 at 10:52 am

@positive,
Thanks for the reminder. Oh well. This is a goodmove, though, because it makes projects that use the money eligible for grants, too.


Sea Reddy
College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2016 at 8:24 pm
Sea Reddy, College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2016 at 8:24 pm

Facebook:
Very generous donation indeed!

Happy holidays!




Thanks, FB
Downtown North
on Dec 5, 2016 at 3:35 pm
Thanks, FB, Downtown North
on Dec 5, 2016 at 3:35 pm

Good job Face Book,

"The coalition includes Youth United for Community Action, Faith in Action Bay Area, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, Comité de Vecinos del Lado Oeste -- East Palo Alto, the City of East Palo Alto, the City of Menlo Park, and other community groups."

That's a lot of fingers in the pie, Can we get transparency on when and where the money goes.

There are several landlord organizations out there, I would suggest having your laison contact them directly and discuss options for them to participate in offering some well placed, well intended, low income tenants,


Jenna D
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 8, 2017 at 4:16 pm
Jenna D, Old Palo Alto
on Feb 8, 2017 at 4:16 pm

I'm sure they are in the same mix but at least Dan Gold's fund is making housing more affordable in the area. I'd like to see how this fund actually affects people who need to live in Palo Alto such as students or current residents afford the sky rocketing rents.


Susan
Midtown
on Feb 9, 2017 at 3:22 pm
Susan, Midtown
on Feb 9, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Why doesn't Zuckerberg start by building affordable housing next to his compound in Crescent Park in Palo Alto? Do the elites in PA just want the poor people dumped into some other neighborhood? These same poor people are the ones who clean the rich people's homes, and mow their lawns and nanny their kids. Where is the social justice?


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