By David Wehner, Chief Financial Officer
Today, Facebook is designating $150 million of our $1 billion affordable housing commitment to build housing for the Bay Area’s lowest-income residents. This new Community Housing Fund will support the development of at least 2,000 affordable homes, making it California’s largest private fund dedicated to creating housing for extremely low-income families — families that are making less than 30% of our region’s median income.
Since Facebook committed $1 billion to help address the affordable housing crisis one year ago, this work has only become more imperative as the pandemic has heightened the challenges for people already struggling with the cost of housing.“Homekey has fundamentally changed the way California creates housing for the homeless — faster than ever before and at a significantly lower cost. Facebook has stepped up to invest in success, making up to $150 million available for low-interest loans to local governments and nonprofits to buy hundreds more units to create permanent housing. This investment is part of Facebook’s $1 billion commitment they announced last year — and there is no better time to put this money to work. The COVID crisis demands we all step up and do more to protect the most vulnerable. I challenge other private sector corporations to follow suit and provide additional low-cost capital to create thousands more homeless housing units all across California.” – California Governor Gavin Newsom
Investing in extremely low-income housing is critical to addressing homelessness, as people who qualify as extremely low-income are the most vulnerable to slipping into homelessness. Many essential workers — who we’ve all relied on through this pandemic — also depend on extremely low-income housing so they can live and attend school in the communities where they work.
This fund will help fill a critical gap in California, where there is an immense shortage of extremely low-income housing and very few dedicated funding streams to build it.
Facebook has the opportunity to help bridge this gap by working with partners in the community to support those most impacted by the housing crisis. The fund will be managed by the Local Initiative Support Corporation, the largest community development organization in the country. Destination: Home, a nonprofit organization leading efforts to end homelessness in Santa Clara County, is also contributing an additional $5 million to the fund.
An advisory board of these core partners, and community members who have personal experience with homelessness, will oversee the fund’s investments.
Projects from Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties are eligible to apply. One-third of the funding will be dedicated to Santa Clara County through our partnership with Destination: Home.
Starting today, projects are eligible to begin the intake process to receive funding. In the months ahead, we will fund a First Community Housing project in San Jose, California, which will offer 123 deeply affordable apartments. The apartments will include onsite supportive services near public transit, where all residents will receive a free, annual VTA SmartPass providing free bus and light rail access throughout Santa Clara County.
We expect to fund at least five projects across the eligible counties in the next 12 months and plan to distribute all $150 million by 2026.
This effort is the direct result of collaborations with key partners to fund effective, permanent supportive housing models, to increase the availability of affordable housing for extremely low-income families, and address the disproportionate number of people of color experiencing homelessness in the Bay Area.
The Community Housing Fund is a part of our commitment to the Partnership for the Bay’s Future, a collaborative regional effort to address affordable housing, and falls into the partnership’s family of funds. It is also informed by years of Facebook’s commitment to this space and builds on our Catalyst Housing Fund, an affordable housing pilot program launched in 2016 that has helped create 600 affordable homes near our headquarters.
Additional Updates on Our Affordable Housing Work
As part of our broader effort to support those struggling with housing affordability, we will contribute $1.5 million to All Home, an organization centering racial equity in its framework and working to disrupt the cycle of poverty and homelessness in the Bay Area.
In November Facebook also invested in Factory_OS, an innovative local company that employs 500 union workers to build modular housing that reduces the cost of housing construction— because as long as it continues to cost $650,000 to build one affordable apartment in the Bay Area, the housing crisis will persist.
However, funding alone is not enough. We are also committed to supporting policy changes and organizations that address systemic issues within the housing crisis. Specifically, we will support policies that:
- Incentivize and enable the construction of housing at all income levels, but importantly, housing that will ensure that those most vulnerable, like our essential workers, can afford to live and thrive in the Bay Area and beyond.
- Reduce the cost and increase the speed of housing production.
- Encourage sustainable development in transit-rich areas to expand housing options across generations and the workforce.
- Address the impacts of discriminatory housing policies that have historically excluded communities of color and prevented the economic mobility of lower income families.
All of us have a role to play in combating the housing crisis, and we’re committed to doing our part and listening to our neighbors to build stronger, more resilient communities where everyone can thrive.