Google to Build Housing to Help Deal with Bay Area’s Rent Crisis

Death Star (Kent Phillips / Disney / Getty)
Kent Phillips / Disney / Getty

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is planning to build 330 units of housing near its headquarters in what is seen as a response to the housing and rental crisis that has beleaguered Bay Area residents who are seeking more affordable, and often dangerous, alternatives to traditional living accommodations.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the development would reportedly prioritize housing for people working in the city, but would not be limited to Google employees. Google reportedly employs more than 20,000 people in a city of 80,000.

Facebook has also reportedly announced plans to develop 1,500 units of housing on its property in Menlo Park, and is donating $20 million to developing a community partnership that will aim to support affordable housing. The Chronicle notes that approximately 15 percent of those units built would reportedly be designated as subsidized housing units.

While there is no simple solution to curbing the ever-expanding housing crisis Bay Area residents are facing, it has been suggested that investing in public transportation and increasing housing near those areas will be a big help, in addition to controlling the region’s job growth rates.

The area’s traffic problems are another reason so many are intent on investing in residential units near public transportation.

For example, reports that in Milipitas, a transit village development known as The Fields will offer residents housing nearby links to mass transit and will consist of apartments, an organic grocery store, a hotel, and stores and restaurants.

The Fields will reportedly include 1,185 apartment rentals, 150,000 square feet of high-end retail, and a 200-room Virgin Hotel. It is also located close to the BART, which will help ease the pain of traffic-riddled commutes so many residents face on a daily basis.

However, those units are not nearly enough to scratch the surface in regards to addressing the Bay Area’s housing crisis — an issue that has been highlighted with the deadly Oakland “Ghost Ship” warehouse fire that claimed 36 lives.

The fire has prompted city officials throughout the Golden State to clamp down on similar warehouses, delivering eviction notices in the hope of preventing such situations in the future. Some were able to live in the Ghost Ship for as little as $300 a month in a city where rents average $2,700 per month.

The fire has also prompted crackdowns on other popular venues with living situations similar to those in the Oakland warehouse where 36 people perished.

Just last week, the legendary Richmond-based underground punk venue Burnt Ramen was described as the city’s “own Ghost Ship” by Mayor Tom Butt. According to the Easy Bay Express, Butt clarified that while he did not want to shut it down — citing it as “grandfathered in” — he does want to see it inspected every three years.

The Ghost Ship warehouse is owned by Chor Ng, 62, a Bay Area landlord who reportedly owns several other businesses, including a bakery, a flower shop, a Buddhist temple and a massage parlor. According to the Chronicle, Ng has owned the warehouse since 1988, and was described by her tenants as a quiet landlord who did not interfere with their businesses.

The Ghost Ship was not permitted for residential use or entertainment purposes due to fire hazards.

The bulk of the blame has landed on Derick Ion Almena, who ran the underground artistic community. The Chronicle notes that he told Ng about problems, including electrical wiring issues, and was allegedly told to pay out of pocket for them to be fixed.

However, like many of the residents in the artistic collective, Almena said he could not afford to pay and has stated that he would put on parties and events in the warehouse in order to help pay for rent. A former resident of the Ghost Ship told Breitbart News that Almena was often taken advantage of by other people, including those the man described as the “Burning Man crowd.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz


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