San Jose: Google grants $1.5M to The Salvation Army for new homes
Protesters hold a rally outside City Hall Thursday, Aug. 22 ahead of a Station Area Advisory Group meeting in which Google unveiled a framework for its San Jose development vision. Image credit: Janice Bitters

Google will give The Salvation Army $1.5 million to expand the legacy nonprofit’s footprint and housing in San Jose and support veterans’ programs in San Francisco.

The donation, through Google.org, is the first grant the company has distributed after announcing this summer it would open up $50 million in funding to nonprofits focused on homelessness and displacement. It comes less than a week after Google unveiled its proposed framework for a more than 8 million-square-foot mixed-use tech campus envisioned to rise on the west side of downtown San Jose.

The gift is a tiny portion of the Mountain View-based tech giant’s overall $1 billion housing commitment, announced June 18. Google has said it will take a three-prong approach to help create 20,000 new homes with its commitment. Of those new homes, 15,000 would rise on land valued at $750 million that the company would set aside for housing.

Other parts of the commitment include the $50 million grant pool through Google.org — from which The Salvation Army just received funds — and a new housing investment fund for developers.

The Salvation Army Golden State Division will use $1 million of the grant to redevelop and expand the nonprofit’s Silicon Valley Community Center at 359 N. Fourth St. in San Jose. That money will help The Salvation Army triple the size of its existing community center in the South Bay city and build a housing complex on the property that will include 225 affordable homes and 75 transitional housing units.

“This gift from Google will make a significant impact on The Salvation Army’s ability to serve the homeless in the Bay Area,” said Maj. Roy Wild, who oversees The Salvation Army operations in Santa Clara County.

Once the expansion is complete, The Salvation Army will be able to accommodate at least 825 people on the site, which will help the organization combat homelessness in the city, according to a statement by the nonprofit Wednesday.

“As the city of San Jose looks to provide solutions to this unprecedented housing crisis, it is great to know that organizations such as The Salvation Army and Google are working together to help us,” said Councilmember Raul Peralez, whose district includes downtown.

Meanwhile, $500,000 will go to The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center in San Francisco which dates back to 1941 and focuses on veterans’ programs and services and includes a 40-bed detox program for people addicted to drugs and alcohol and a family emergency shelter with room for 30 homeless families.

“The Salvation Army provides critical support for our community members most in need; from transitional housing to programs and services, they are on the front lines helping alleviate homelessness,” Adrian Schurr, the Bay Area program manager for Google.org, said in a statement. “Google.org is committed to continuing our support for organizations like The Salvation Army to help find solutions to homelessness.”

With the announcement Wednesday, Google has offered a signal that it has started vetting applications and ideas for its $50 million grant program announced this year. It has also started divvying out other housing funds.

Last month, the Alphabet Inc.-owned tech giant announced it would give $50 million 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. That investment came from a $250 million investment fund Google has created to help developers move housing projects along.

“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,” Kevin Zwick, chief executive officer of the Housing Trust, said in a statement earlier this year.

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

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