Apple’s announcement to commit $2.5 billion towards California’s housing crisis was met with mixed response from public officials Monday. This amount marks the largest contribution following a string of donations from Silicon Valley tech companies.
Apple’s donation designates $1 billion for an affordable housing investment fund, which would allow developers to build more low-to-moderate income housing. Another $1 billion will fund a first-time buyer mortgage assistance program, which is primarily intended to aid veterans, service personnel, and school employees in meeting the down payment for a house.
Further, the announcement commits $300 million of land owned by Apple to go toward affordable housing developments in San Jose, $350 million to be distributed to existing affordable housing funds and developments, as well as $50 million to be donated to the nonprofit Destination: Home.
Apple’s $2.5 billion contribution was met with varied responses from public officials.
The Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing’s Executive Director, Alan Greenlee, expressed encouragement towards the donations of tech companies like Apple.
“The Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing encourages the tech sector’s involvement in addressing our state’s housing affordability crisis,” Greenlee said in an email statement to Annenberg Media. “Businesses understand that our housing shortage impacts job and economic growth and our communities thrive for both people and business when we make affordable housing a priority.”
“The sky-high cost of housing—both for homeowners and renters—is the defining quality-of-life concern for millions of families across this state, one that can only be fixed by building more housing,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in response to Apple’s announcement.
Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a far more critical statement, referring to the announcement as “an effort to distract from the fact that [Apple] has helped create California’s housing crisis – all while raking in $800 million of taxpayer subsidies, and keeping a quarter trillion dollars of profit offshore, in order to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes.”
While Apple’s contribution is the tech industry’s largest, it is not the first. In the last five months, both Facebook and Google pledged $1 billion each to address housing affordability around Silicon Valley. Similarly, Microsoft committed $500 million for new housing around its Seattle-area headquarters.
As these companies have grown in recent years, housing prices have increased dramatically, with an existing single-family home in the San Francisco Bay area having a median prices well above the state and national median prices.
“Before the world knew the name Silicon Valley, and long before we carried technology in our pockets, Apple called this region home,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in the press release. “We feel a profound civic responsibility to ensure it remains a vibrant place where people can live, have a family and contribute to the community.”