Google invests in San Jose homeless services, Black cultural center
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo praised Google on April 14 for being a "good neighbor" to the city. Photo by Tran Nguyen.

Google executives joined elected officials in San Jose Thursday to announce a $500,000 grant to aid homeless services and help build a new African American cultural center.

The grant will be split evenly between nonprofit People Assisting The Homeless (PATH), and a service and cultural center project for the city’s African American community, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren said at the event.

“These are going to be stunning additions to our community,” Lofgren said. “I want to thank Google for its vision and for always being a partner with our wonderful nonprofits.”

Silicon Valley Rep. Zoe Lofgren speaks on the $500,000 grant that will aid the building of a new African American Cultural Center and fund homeless services in San Jose. Photo courtesy of Google.

Half of the grant—$250,000—will help support the nonprofit’s case management services and buy equipment for a new supportive housing development located on Fourth Street set to open later this year. PATH, a nonprofit that provides homeless services in more than 150 cities in California, also recently received a $1.2 million contract from San Jose to provide mental health services to unhoused people in the downtown core.

The other half of the grant will help with pre-development and community engagement for the construction of an African American Cultural Center project and affordable housing on The Alameda. The African American Community Service Agency and First Community Housing are spearheading the project.

According to previous news reports, the project will feature 109 residences, offices, a clinic and community gathering spaces. The nine-story building is planned for the intersection of The Alameda and Interstate 880.

San Jose Vice Mayor Chappie Jones said the grant, especially for the African American Cultural Center, is tremendous for San Jose.

“I’m very enthusiastic about it,” Jones told San José Spotlight. “In my very limited time on the City Council, I will do everything in my power to move this project forward.”

The grants come as Google plans to invest $3.5 billion across California to expand its offices in Los Angeles, Sunnyvale and Mountain View, in addition to plans for San Jose’s Downtown West project. According to Google executives, the San Jose mega campus is expected to bring 25,000 jobs, including 6,000 in construction, to the area.

Downtown West, approved by San Jose in 2021, will span 80 acres near Diridon Station and feature 7.3 million square feet of office space, 4,000 homes, 15 acres of parks and a 30,000-50,000-square-foot community center. It also boasts 500,000 square feet for retail, cultural, education and arts uses. A quarter of the housing in the area will be affordable. Construction is scheduled to start in the next year.

“We want to make sure that we are good neighbors,” said Kent Walker, president of global affairs and chief legal officer at Google. “We want to make sure we’re doing right by the communities in which we operate.”

A proposed rendering of the new Google campus and village coming to downtown San Jose, called Downtown West.

San Jose recently approved spending $4.5 million from Google on education, job training, scholarships and neighborhood-serving programs—as well as an advisory committee tasked with dispersing more money from the tech titan. By the time Downtown West is completed a decade from now, Google will have doled out $200 million in community benefit funds.

Officials, including San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, praised Google for its investment and willingness to work with the city.

“We are incredibly enthusiastic about this, more than just about what Google’s doing, but about how Google is doing it,” Liccardo said.

Councilmember Dev Davis, who represents the area where the Google campus will be located, said the new construction will help increase the city’s tax revenue.

“What that does is it allows us to provide more services that residents deserve, such as public safety,” Davis told San José Spotlight. “Google is going to be investing in our parks and our trails, which I also really appreciate.”

Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter. 

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