Facebook announced Wednesday that it will dedicate $150 million to affordable housing for extremely low-income residents in the Bay Area. Destination: Home, a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating homelessness in Santa Clara County, will contribute an additional $5 million.
In a company press statement issued Dec. 9, David Wehner, chief financial officer of Facebook, said the money will support the development of at least 2,000 affordable homes for families making less than 30% of the Bay Area's median income. In Santa Clara County, that's an income of about $33,000 for a one-person household and $47,000 for a family of four.
Starting Wednesday, projects from Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa counties will be eligible to have access to the fund. But one-third of the investment will be dedicated to Santa Clara County with the partnership the social media company has with Destination: Home, the company said.
"We expect to fund at least five projects across the eligible counties in the next 12 months and plan to distribute all $150 million by 2026, Wehner wrote in the statement.
The funding allocation is part of the tech giant's larger $1 billion commitment to California, which it announced in October 2019. Facebook said at the time that the money is intended to address the affordable housing crisis in the state with the goal of creating up to 20,000 housing units for essential workers.
The billion-dollar investment is expected to be rolled out over the next decade, the company said. The first part of that investment, announced last year, was a $25 million grant to build teacher housing in Palo Alto, according to Juan Salazar, Facebook's public policy manager for local and community affairs.
The company's announcement comes at a time when the pandemic has exacerbated existing housing insecurities and homelessness throughout the Bay Area.
"Since Facebook committed $1 billion to help address the affordable housing crisis one year ago, this work has only become more imperative as the pandemic has heightened the challenges for people already struggling with the cost of housing," Wehner said in the news release.
The $150 million fund will be managed by Local Initiative Support Corporation, which supports community development projects. The New York-based nonprofit has offices in more than 30 cities, including Oakland.
One of the first projects the fund will support is the First Community Housing project in San Jose, the company said, which has proposed building 123 affordable apartment units on the site of a former San Jose State University fraternity house.
Salazar explained that Facebook is taking a multipronged strategy in its approach to housing issues, prioritizing housing construction, advocacy for more housing and supporting transit-oriented development in particular.
Facebook, alongside other tech and finance companies, is also investing in a company called Factory_OS, that works to drive down multifamily housing construction costs.
The funding commitment also complements other efforts at the state and regional levels to expand housing access, such as California's Homekey initiative, a new $600 million fund created to enable local agencies to purchase hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings or other buildings and convert them into interim or permanent long-term housing for people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Homekey has fundamentally changed the way California creates housing for the homeless — faster than ever before and at a significantly lower cost. Facebook has stepped up to invest in success, making up to $150 million available for low-interest loans to local governments and nonprofits to buy hundreds more units to create permanent housing," said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a written statement.
"This investment is part of Facebook's $1 billion commitment they announced last year — and there is no better time to put this money to work. The COVID crisis demands we all step up and do more to protect the most vulnerable. I challenge other private sector corporations to follow suit and provide additional low-cost capital to create thousands more homeless housing units all across California," he added.
Facebook's housing commitment is also part of the regional collaborative efforts housed under the umbrella of The Partnership for the Bay's Future, Salazar explained. That organization is a public-private partnership working to, over the next five years, expand and protect housing for 175,000 households and protect 8,000 housing units, according to its website.
As of Dec. 9, the door is open for funding applications, Salazar said.
"On our end, the faster it goes out, the better," he said.