Facebook Among Firms to Support Affordable Housing in San Francisco by Kevin Owens

Big tech firms such as Facebook are pillars of their local communities. They attract a highly-skilled and educated workforce and pay high incomes to their employees. While a young, smart, wealthy population sounds great on the surface, there are drawbacks to such a demographic shift. Since the internet boom of the 1990s and 2000s, the tech firms who call Northern California home have unintentionally driven up competition in the housing market.

The resulting issue is that there is not enough supply to meet the growing demand for housing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Especially when it comes to affordable housing for families whose incomes cannot match those with high-paying tech jobs. Increased prices have led to a lower quality of housing for lower-income households who are priced out of the real-estate race. This is where The Partnership for the Bay’s Future comes in.

San Francisco and the surrounding area have over 7,000 homeless people. The goal of The Partnership’s mission is to build, renovate, and protect affordable housing in the Bay Area; ultimately, helping to fight the homeless problem with more affordable and subsidized housing. The participating companies and foundations do not just want to throw money at the problem, however. A portion of the $500 million fund will be earmarked for legislative use in order to protect tenants’ rights and to sustain affordable home construction and renovation.

The Partnership for the Bay’s Future is working with several firms to raise funds which will support continued, attainable growth in the housing market. The goals of The Partnership are to fund the construction and refurbishment of permanent homes, to upgrade infrastructure and public transportation, as well as to provide economic opportunities for disadvantaged citizens. Hoping to improve the lives of Bay Area citizens in every aspect, not simply by assisting with housing needs, is the driving force behind the creation of The Partnership. The area of focus for improvements includes the five counties of the Bay Area: San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa.

The Partnership for the Bay’s Future describes their mission as:

“…helping solve the interconnected challenges of housing, transportation, and economic opportunity. Developed with the input of faith leaders, housing advocates, elected officials, and residents — the Partnership’s goals include the expansion and protection of the homes of up to 175,000 households over the next five years and the preservation and production of more than 8,000 homes over the next five to 10 years”

Collaboration between leaders from so many different community groups makes The Partnership unique. Participants include everyone from corporate tech firms to spiritual community leaders. Working together, this diverse group will be better equipped to address the needs of their neighbours.

Not only will The Partnership work to raise funds to expand, renovate, and construct affordable housing, but a parallel goal is to work with local and state governments to protecting the rights of low-income tenants in the long run. The work is not finished when there are enough homes for those who have been priced out of the market. The Partnership wants to ensure that the problem will be fixed in the long run. Of course, this is a difficult goal to achieve, but by attacking the problem with legislation in addition to homes, the housing crisis is more likely to remain at bay as populations and economies continue to grow.

Participants in the plan include the San Francisco Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Ford Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Facebook, Genentech, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Silicon Valley Community. Over $260 million have been raised thus far, with the goal of raising over $500 million.

The Partnership has already begun its work, inking its first deal with the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation. EBALDC works to develop local communities in the East Bay with the goal of building healthy, safe, and vibrant neighborhoods. Through working with groups like EBALDC, The Partnership hopes to build up the Bay Area community to support its residents for generations to come, no matter their income level.

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