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Facebook Throws $1 Billion At California’s Housing Catastrophe

Facebook Throws $1 Billion At California’s Housing Catastrophe

By CultureBanx Team

  • Facebook committed $1B to improve California’s affordable housing options

  • African Americans make up 34% of San Francisco’s homeless population

Social media giant Facebook (FB -3.91%) is following in the footsteps of other tech giants in the Bay Area, and announced a $1billion commitment to improve California’s affordable housing options. The company has made more than $180 billion dollars in revenue since 2016, and has been under constant scrutiny for valuing private profits more than public welfare. Is Facebook actually ready to pay for a housing problem in which they’ve helped to exacerbate?

Why This Matters: Essentially, the company is putting less than 1% of what it made in revenues in the last three and half years towards fixing the housing problem, and this doesn’t really show a deep financial undertaking. Facebook is committing $150 million of the $1 billion pledge for the development and construction of affordable housing, this will include housing for the homeless, something that is desperately needed. In 2017, the San Francisco Homeless Count Survey found the differences between the city’s population and those experiencing homelessness were vastly distinct, with African Americans making up 34% compared to just 6% of the general population. Overall the money which is a mix of  grants, loans, and land is intended to help teachers, nurses, and first responders live closer to where they work.

The company is putting less than 1% of what it made in revenues in the last three and half years towards fixing the housing problem

Just to put this into perspective for you a family of four earning $117,400 a year or less is considered low income in the Bay Area, according to the latest U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This figure puts them ahead of Los Angeles and New York City where the low income bracket starts at $77,500 and $83,450 respectively. The “very low income” category for the Bay Area ranges from $44,000 to $73,300 a year for a family of four, and this is the range for teachers in the area that Facebook claims its billion dollar housing commitment is going to help.

For Facebook, throwing money at the problem probably won’t be enough, due to high construction costs that are also hampering efforts to ramp up building of affordable housing units in the region. A typical unit for a low-income family in San Francisco costs around $400,000 to build, according to the Government Accountability Office. Based on this number and Facebook’s goal of creating up to 20,000 new housing units, they would need to actually put $8 billion dollars towards the cause.   

What’s Next: Perhaps this investment from Facebook is better late than never, but only time will tell how effective it will be for residents. In the meantime, the company will have its hands full sorting through a plethora of government regulation issues. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will undergo a hearing today with the Financial Services Committee about its Libra crypto currency and of course housing practices.

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