Newly elected California Governor Gavin Newsom has presented a $7.7 billion budget to address the housing shortage and homelessness problems in California. According to a recent story in the Mercury News, Newsom called on the Silicon Valley companies that power the state’s economy to match the $500 million he’s earmarked for middle-income workforce housing.
Part of his plan is to provide grants that encourage local governments to build housing. In addition, the plan will expand state tax credits that can be used to fund affordable housing projects. Furthermore, cities will be held accountable if they don’t meet their state-mandated housing goals.
“The workforce housing issues have been exacerbated by the success of a lot of these [Silicon Valley] companies,” said Newsom. “I do not begrudge other people’s success, but that success has created burdens and stress, and we are doing our part. I would be asking them to do their part to amplify our efforts, to match those efforts, and to increase our capacity to deliver.”
Carl Guardino, the president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a business-backed public policy and advocacy organization, said, “It is serious money. And we have a serious need, with employers seriously concerned about it.”
Like Newsom, advocates for affordable housing have been asking Silicon Valley tech companies to do more to help with the housing shortage. The high-paying jobs offered by local tech companies have attracted workers from all over the world. Thus, tech companies often get blamed for high rents and a lack of affordable housing for all of the people who want to live in this area.
While Newsom and other housing advocates hope for more, tech giants have started to pitch in to help alleviate housing pressures:
- Last November, LinkedIn, Pure Storage, and Cisco donated $20 million to Housing Trust Silicon Valley, a nonprofit that builds affordable homes.
- In addition, Cisco pledged $50 million to help fight homelessness in Silicon Valley.
- Facebook raised nearly $20 million through its Catalyst Housing Fund to create affordable housing.
- Salesforce has made several donations to fight homelessness in the Bay Area.
- Google plans to include up to 8,000 homes on its new campus in the North Bayshore area of Mountain View.
According to Michael Lane, deputy director of the affordable housing advocacy nonprofit SV@Home, more companies will likely step up now that they know $500 million has been set aside by the state to create more middle-income housing.
“To have the state step in as a strong partner with a new governor, I think that sends a strong signal,” said Lane. “This is the most exciting budget around housing that I’ve ever seen in my career,” he continued.
“Businesses absolutely want to do their part to help address California’s housing crisis,” added Rufus Jeffris, a spokesman for the pro-business Bay Area Council. “They also want to see meaningful progress in fixing state and local policies that are largely to blame for creating that crisis over many decades.”
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