Zuckerberg Philanthropy May Target Housing

The philanthropic organization started by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan is exploring ways to help alleviate the Bay Area’s most vexing problem: the high cost of housing.

Representatives from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC have met with several housing experts affiliated with local governments, real estate groups and academia in recent weeks to gather insights on the issue, three people who work on housing policy issues in the Bay Area said. The interest is early, as the organization is just seven months old. People in the talks described the Chan Zuckerberg’s interest as serious, but explorative and non-specific.

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There are also several policy causes the group could tackle. Academic research also has increasingly tied economic mobility to high-quality neighborhoods, particularly Harvard University professors who found people had significant income gains when they could use a housing voucher to move into low-poverty areas. The Obama administration has recently argued that local zoning rules that restrict construction of new rental housing has reduced the buying power of middle-class people.

Mary Vascellaro and Anshu Sharma commented on this article.
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Housing affordability “hasn’t attracted much philanthropic attention because ‘either the ‘market rate’ developers were making money and taking care of production or it was perceived to be the government’s responsibility.