Apple CEO Tim Cook said his company will contribute $2.5 billion to help the state of California deal with a lack of affordable housing and homelessness.
The tech company joins Google and Facebook, with each company vowing to provide $1 billion toward finding housing solutions in a state run by Democrats for decades.
“It’s just unsustainable,” Cook said in an interview with the Axios website published on Monday. ”This problem is so big that the public sector cannot do it alone.”
Axios reported that most people can’t afford the housing in the Bay Area and have to make long commutes to work.
Many teachers and emergency workers can’t afford to live in the Bay Area communities they serve. “Super-commutes” of 90 minutes or more, often from distant counties, have become a grim regional phenomenon.
The tech giants are trying to be better neighbors.
Cook told Axios that Apple is making this move now in part because Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is the right partner.
“This unparalleled financial commitment [is] proof that Apple is serious about solving this issue” Newsom said in a press release acknowledging the financial boon. “I hope other companies follow their lead.”
Apple also shared how its donation would be used:
- $1 billion first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund: “will provide aspiring homebuyers with financing and down payment assistance. Apple and the state will explore strategies to increase access to first-time homeownership opportunities for essential service personnel, school employees and veterans.”
- $300 million worth of Apple-owned land in San Jose will be made available for development of new affordable housing.
- $150 million Bay Area housing fund, a public-private partnership “with partners including Housing Trust Silicon Valley, to support new affordable housing projects. The fund will consist of long-term forgivable loans and grants.”
- $50 million to support vulnerable populations, through a donation to support Destination: Home’s efforts to address homelessness in Silicon Valley.
Axios also reported on some of the radical moves localities are using to try to solve the housing problem, including Minneapolis and the state of Oregon, where single family units have been banned.
Included in Axios’s housing coverage is a report on housing in California done by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center that showed that cities in the states that had the best housing markets had fewer regulations, including less strict land-use laws.
“They’re frozen in a state of half-suburbanization, a patchwork of farms and subdivision,” Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Falim Furth said of the report. “In some places, you can’t build out but you can build up, and in others you can’t build up but you can build out. In a lot of California, you can’t do either one.”
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