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Google investing $1B to build 20,000 homes in Bay Area

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Tech giant pledges 15,000 units on its own land

A sign marking the Google and YouTube HQ in Mountain View. Photo via Shutterstock

On Tuesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed that the tech giant has pledged to build 20,000 homes in the Bay Area over the next ten years, three-quarters of them built on land owned by the Mountain View-based company.

The $1 billion investment is in response to the region’s worsening housing crisis sparked by the tech boom, although only a fraction of the cited billion takes the form of liquid assets.

“First, over the next 10 years, we’ll repurpose at least $750 million of Google’s land, most of which is currently zoned for office or commercial space, as residential housing,” wrote Pichai. “This will enable us to support the development of at least 15,000 new homes at all income levels in the Bay Area, including housing options for middle and low-income families.”

Pichai also said that Google will “establish a $250 million investment fund so that we can provide incentives to enable developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units” during the same timeframe as well.

The announcement notes that Google is one of the largest employers in the region and that there’s a chronic shortage of new housing, without specifically pointing out the relationship between those two phenomena—i.e. Google brings people to the Bay Area for jobs but usually leaves them to their own devices to find a home.

In response, Gov. Gavin Newsom said, “I hope today’s announcement inspires other companies—big and small—to make similar direct investments in housing.”

Pichai’s announcement comes less than week after Bay Area labor group Working Partnerships USA made dire predictions that Google’s upcoming campus in downtown San Jose would send rents soaring if not accompanied by more than 17,000 new homes by 2030.

Google did not directly dispute the charge; in response, the company emphasized that it has committed to include new homes as part of its San Jose proposal.

Neither the city nor the company have provided specific benchmarks or dates, but now it appears that the tech mammoth has set its sights on wider development. Google’s San Jose campus alone will staff roughly 20,000 Google employees, plus thousands of independent contractors.

The company also touted its donations to homeless efforts in the Bay Area, saying, “This builds on the $18 million in grants we’ve given to help address homelessness over the last five years, including $3 million we gave to the newly opened SF Navigation Center and $1.5 million to affordable housing for low income veterans and households in Mountain View.”