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.

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."


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

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


2 people like this
Posted by Nice
a resident of 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.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of 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.

2 people like this
Posted by be positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 3, 2016 at 8:24 am

be positive is a registered user.

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

Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2016 at 10:33 am


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...

2 people like this
Posted by Nice
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2016 at 10:52 am

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

Like this comment
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2016 at 8:24 pm

Very generous donation indeed!

Happy holidays!

Like this comment
Posted by Thanks, FB
a resident of 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,

Like this comment
Posted by Jenna D
a resident of 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.

2 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of 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?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

After experiencing harassment, owner of Zareen's restaurants speaks out about Islamophobia, racism
By Elena Kadvany | 28 comments | 5,325 views

Don't Miss Your Exit (and other lessons from an EV drive)
By Sherry Listgarten | 13 comments | 1,975 views

Goodbye Food Waste!
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 1,765 views

"Better" Dads and "Re-invigorated" Moms: Happier Couples
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,297 views

The kindness of strangers
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 571 views


Register today!

​On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More