Even Google realizes that investing in affordable housing in the Bay Area is a necessity or workers will be completely priced out of their campus.
Google is committing $1 billion to try to provide more affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, where big tech firms have been blamed for putting home prices out of reach for anyone without a rich stock-option plan. Google says the money should result in 20,000 new homes added to the local market, over 10 years.
"We hope this plays a role in addressing the chronic shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low income residents," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement unveiling the plan Tuesday.
As Google and other big tech companies have thrived, many people have struggled to find housing in the region or have been forced into lengthy commutes — 90 miles in at least one case.
People earning $100,000 can afford to live in only 28 percent of the Bay Area's neighborhoods, member station KQED reported last month, based on a review of housing costs and median rent rates. And a study published in April found that the Bay Area had the third-largest population of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S.
Google's announcement comes one week after Mountain View's city council postponed a move to ban RVs from parking overnight on the city's streets — a phenomenon that made headlines last month when reports emerged that hundreds of people were living in RVs to escape high rents.
As Bloomberg reported in May, RVs and vans line the streets of some neighborhoods. Some of the people who live in them have been in the area for decades; others are lower-paid Google workers who can't afford to pay the rent on an apartment close to their jobs.
The problem is nobody already living in Silly Valley wants affordable housing, especially multi-family housing, because that means those people will move in and crash property values. The NIMBY factor for affordable housing on the West Coast is off the charts.
Google is helping at least, but the real problem is zoning. And zoning won't change because politicians who do re-zone will be slaughtered at the polls.
Here's the thing though, housing markets eventually crash. When it happens in the Bay Area, watch out.