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Apple Commits $2.5 Billion to Housing in California

In a Bay Area region full of large tech companies that have walled themselves off in elaborate suburban office parks, Apple stands out as the most disconnected.

Its Cupertino headquarters, one of the most expensive office buildings in history, is far from public transit. Apple’s deal with the city to build the campus for 12,000 workers came with few strings attached for it to help pay for affordable housing, despite a huge shortage in the state. 

Apple is starting to address the issue. The company said Monday it would commit $2.5 billion to affordable housing. That total breaks down like this: more than $1 billion to finance low-income housing, $1 billion for a state fund to assist first-time home buyers, and identifying $300 million of land it owns in San Jose to develop thousands of housing units.

It is the largest commitment among Bay Area tech companies that have made similar announcements lately, including Facebook, Google and Airbnb. The money is needed: The Information estimated in early 2018 that large tech companies are poised to double their footprint in the region over the next decade, further exacerbating the housing shortage. Policy reforms to relax zoning rules that severely restrict multi-family housing are even more important.

Worth keeping in mind: Apple disclosed the plan after media and political pressure. The announcement came a week after investigative news outlet Reveal published a story contrasting the iPhone maker’s lagging housing efforts to Google’s heavy involvement in funding more housing construction. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has also called on tech companies to pay for more housing. 

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