Apple Commits $2.5bn to Affordable Housing

Tech giant Apple has pledged US$2.5 billion (A$3.63bn) to address California’s housing crisis, surpassing the commitments made by fellow tech heavyweights Google and Facebook this year.

The Silicon Valley-based giant says it will work in partnership with the public and nonprofit sectors to address the challenge.

California is in the midst of a housing crisis with fewer homes available to house its 40 million-strong population.

Apple's commitment includes a $1 billion affordable housing investment fund that will open a line of credit to develop and build low-to-moderate income housing, a $1 billion first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund, $300 million of Apple-owned land in San Jose made available for the development of affordable housing, a $150 million Bay Area housing fund, and $50 million towards supporting vulnerable populations.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook described the move as “a profound civic responsibility”.

“Before the world knew the name Silicon Valley, and long before we carried technology in our pockets, Apple called this region home,” Cook said in a statement on Monday.

“Affordable housing means stability and dignity, opportunity and pride. When these things fall out of reach for too many, we know the course we are on is unsustainable.”

Related: Lendlease Strikes $21bn Development Deal With Google

▲ Apple Commits $2.5 billion to help curb California's housing crisis. The state has more homeless people in the state than anywhere else in the United States.
▲ California has more homeless people in the state than anywhere else in the United States.

The sky-high cost of housing — for both homeowners and renters — is a pressing issue in the state. Nearly 30,000 people left San Francisco between April and June this year.

Homeownership in the Bay Area is now at a seven-year low, largely due to the rise of tech hubs like Silicon Valley, with tech companies blamed for pushing up real estate prices.

The rollout is in partnership with the state of California and community-based organisations, California governor Gavin Newsom said.

The iPhone maker’s first project will see it work with Destination: Home, a service provider that aims to reduce homelessness.

The announcement follows Google’s housing commitment in July, announcing it would give $1 billion towards affordable housing in the Bay area, and Facebook’s $1 billion pledge in October.

California last month passed new laws aimed at boosting funding for affordable housing and the easing development restrictions to curb its housing shortage.

Newsom has previously set the ambitious target of 3.5 million new homes in the state through to 2025.

In 2016 a McKinsey Global Institute report found that up to 50 per cent of California’s households could not afford the cost of housing in their local market.

While virtually none of California’s low-income and very-low-income households could afford the local cost of housing.

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