Google announces first housing investment from $1B commitment

Google announced Wednesday how it will spend the first $50 million of its $1 billion housing commitment in the Bay Area.

The Mountain View-based tech giant is set to invest the funds to the Housing Trust Silicon Valley’s TECH fund, an initiative launched about two years ago by the San Jose nonprofit to offer low-interest loans to affordable housing developers.

“As part of our $1 billion housing commitment, we’ve been looking for ways to address the affordable housing crisis in the Bay Area,” Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer at Google, said in a statement Wednesday. “Housing Trust Silicon Valley provided us with the perfect opportunity to do that through their TECH fund, which uses critical capital to break down barriers to building affordable housing.”

Google announced on June 18 it would take a three-prong approach to help create 20,000 new residential units. Of those new homes, 15,000 would rise on land valued at $750 million that the company would set aside for housing.

The second part of its commitment is a $250 million investment fund meant to help developers move their projects along, and that is the pot that the $50 million contribution to the Housing Trust Silicon Valley is coming from.

Finally, Google is going to divvy out $50 million in grants to nonprofits addressing displacement and homelessness in the Bay Area, which is another part of the effort that local nonprofits are watching closely for more details about how the money will be spent.

As of March, the Housing Trust had raised $62 million for the TECH fund, named for acronym that stands for Tech, Equity, Community, Housing. With Google’s contribution, the fund has hit $112 million and company has become its largest benefactor.

“I welcome this announcement from the Housing Trust signaling forward momentum from Google about its commitment to help provide needed affordable housing options in our community,” Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren said in a statement Wednesday.

The TECH fund is made up entirely of investments from corporations and wealthy individuals. Donors can get their money back five to 10 years down the road with interest, but in the meantime the loans are distributed quickly for things like land purchases or act as gap funding on complex projects.

Google joins other local titans like Cisco Foundation, Sobrato Family Foundation, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, LinkedIn, Grove Foundation, Pure Storage and NetApp, which have all contributed money to the fund since 2017.

When the Housing Trust launched the TECH fund more than two years ago, it set out a goal to raise $50 million to help build or preserve 10,000 affordable units over the next decade. So far, the Housing Trust’s TECH fund has helped to create 2,255 homes across 20 developments in the greater Bay Area, according to the nonprofit.

“Google’s significant investment continues the momentum TECH Fund was designed to create,” Kevin Zwick, chief executive officers of Housing Trust Silicon Valley said Wednesday. “Not only will Google’s investment make a real impact, but it sends the intentional message that we’re not done and we can all do more when it comes to affordable housing.”

Contact Janice Bitters at janice@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.

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