Google on Tuesday pledged to commit more than $1 billion to help address the severe housing crisis in the region that includes its headquarters and Silicon Valley.
Chief executive Sundar Pichai announced the initiative, saying the internet colossus wants to be “a good neighbor” in the area bursting with technology companies.
The move comes with Silicon Valley firms under pressure over the spike in real estate prices, lack of affordable housing and growing homeless problem in the San Francisco Bay region.
The region has attracted thousands of highly paid tech workers that has strained the housing supply and led to an explosion in prices.
Pichai said Google had previously invested in housing in areas where it has operations.
“Today we’re announcing an additional $1 billion investment in housing across the Bay Area,” Pichai said in a blog post.
The largest chunk of this would be to “repurpose” over the next 10 years for housing some $750 million of Google’s land, most of which is currently zoned for office or commercial space.
“This will enable us to support the development of at least 15,000 new homes at all income levels in the Bay Area, including housing options for middle and low-income families,” he said.
“We hope this plays a role in addressing the chronic shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low income residents.”
Google, the largest unit of the Alphabet holding company, also pledged a $250 million investment fund providing incentives to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the market.
An additional $50 million will be funneled through the company’s philanthropic arm Google.org to nonprofits focused on homelessness and displacement, adding to some $18 million in grants given over the past five years.
“In the coming months, we’ll continue to work with local municipalities to support plans that allow residential developers to build quickly and economically,” Pichai said.
“Our goal is to get housing construction started immediately, and for homes to be available in the next few years.”
Earlier this year, companies and organizations, including one started by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, pledged some $500 million for affordable housing in the same region in response to a plea from Governor Gavin Newsom.
Microsoft, based in the northwestern city of Seattle, has pledged $500 million for a similar initiative.
Billionaires are now richer than 60 percent of the world’s population: report
The world's billionaires have doubled in the past decade and are richer than 60 percent of the global population, the charity Oxfam said Monday.
It said poor women and girls were at the bottom of the scale, putting in "12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day," estimated to be worth at least $10.8 trillion a year.
"Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist," Oxfam's India head Amitabh Behar said.
"The gap between rich and poor can't be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies," Behar said ahead of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, where he will represent Oxfam.
Alcohol-infused gummy bears infuriating candy giant Haribo
Ander Mendez and his friends were hoping they'd struck it rich when they came up with the idea of selling alcohol-infused gummy bears -- until they found themselves in the sights of sweet giant Haribo.
Now, these three Spaniards say they're afraid of being shut down by the German confectionery king, which is famed for its vast array of jelly sweets and was founded 100 years ago in the western city of Bonn.
In a not-so-sweetly worded legal letter, Haribo has accused their startup of infringing its trademarked little bear.
But these graduates from the northern Spanish port city of Bilbao insist they will carry on producing their "drunken gummy bears" -- "because people like them."
Threatened and endangered species among the animals hard by Australia’s bushfires
Australia's bushfires have burned more than half the known habitat of 100 threatened plants and animals, including 32 critically endangered species, the government said Monday.
Wildlife experts worry that more than a billion animals have perished in the unprecedented wave of bushfires that have ravaged eastern and southern Australia for months.
Twenty-eight people died in the blazes, which have swept through an area larger than Portugal.
Officials say it will take weeks to assess the exact toll as many fire grounds remain too dangerous to inspect.
But the government's Department of the Environment and Energy on Monday issued a preliminary list of threatened species of plants, animals and insects which have seen more than 10 percent of their known habitat affected.