Facebook announced Thursday that it planned to use $1.5 million from its Innovation Fund to provide grants to five organizations working to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs), or secondary homes.
The Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, in partnership with Facebook and the city of Menlo Park, announced the five grantees set to use the Facebook funds toward building housing, improving the efficiency of the construction process and ultimately driving down the cost of housing production, according to a Facebook press statement.
"We're committed to listening to our neighbors so we collectively address the housing crisis in our local community through our 'three Ps' approach producing, protecting and preserving housing," said Facebook Director of Policy Juan Salazar in the statement.
The grants will be made to East Palo Alto Community Alliance and Neighborhood Development Organization, Preserving Affordable Housing Assets Longterm Inc. and Youth United for Community Action to build two secondary homes as part of a co-op community land trust with a leadership development program; to United Hope Builders, to build a factory in East Palo Alto to manufacture prefabricated homes and employ local residents; to City Systems, to create a project showcasing secondary home constructions in garages; to Soup, to promote a new financing model with low upfront costs for financing secondary homes; and to Symbium, to help homeowners and nonprofits plan ADUs and aid cities in streamlining the approval processes for the secondary homes, sometimes referred to as in-law units or granny cottages.
"United Hope Builders is tackling the housing crisis in the Bay Area head on, by building a steel modular housing factory in East Palo Alto — creating 100 great jobs — and working with counties, cities, faith-based and other non-traditional land owners to develop affordable housing on their land," said Pastor Paul Bains, chair of United Hope Builders.
According to the statement, the grant program is guided by the findings of a University of California at Berkeley study funded by Facebook that explores the specific housing problems facing Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood, North Fair Oaks and the city of East Palo Alto.
That study, called "Investment and Disinvestment as Neighbors," includes a number of recommendations, one of which is for "cities and businesses such as Facebook" to "invest in intermediaries familiar with ADU construction and outreach, user-friendly interfaces and innovative ADU financing mechanisms."
"The Housing Innovation Fund is inclusive by design to bring in community member voices," said Evelyn Stivers, executive director of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, in the statement. "It is thorough in its outreach into our communities to find good organizations with innovative ideas. The grants all work together, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact on our county."