Guilty conscience? Mark Zuckerberg plans $500M affordable housing fund in Bay Area

Fund, which will offer flexible loans, has already raised $260M

Jan.January 24, 2019 05:32 PM

San Francisco and the Facebook like button holding cash (Credit: Wikipedia and Pixabay)

A week after Microsoft announced a $500 million investment for affordable housing in Seattle, Bay Area tech companies are preparing a $500 million investment fund of their own, with embattled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg playing a leading role.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, led by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, partnered with the San Francisco Foundation and other philanthropy groups as part of a larger project to coordinate solutions to the area’s severe housing shortage, which is due in large part to the tech boom in the Bay Area.

The initiative is a response to “the unbelievable daily pressure that almost every resident here feels in the context of housing,” said the San Francisco Foundation’s Judith Bell. “Particularly low-income families, and how much it is impacting employers in the tech, nonprofit, health and service sectors.”

Bell said that the effort has been in the works for two years, as talks were held with local communities to identify housing needs.

As was the case with Microsoft’s well-publicized housing fund in Seattle, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and its partners isn’t giving away $500 million. The fund, which has raised $260 million so far, will offer flexible loans and other unspecified types of financing (so they get paid back).

The nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation will administer the fund, which aims to help build at least 8,000 homes in the Bay Area over the next 10 years, and will also work to preserve homes at risk of being redeveloped into more expensive properties.

According to a recent study, the region needs to build 35,000 units a year just to keep up with population growth.

The Bay Area has added over 700,000 jobs this decade, but just over 100,000 housing units. More than 80 percent of homes in San Francisco now cost more than $1 million. [WSJ] — Kevin Sun

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