Google will invest $1 billion toward efforts to develop at least 15,000 new homes in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"Across the region, one issue stands out as particularly urgent and complex: housing," CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post. "As Google grows throughout the Bay Area — whether it's in our home town of Mountain View, in San Francisco, or in our future developments in San Jose and Sunnyvale — we've invested in developing housing that meets the needs of these communities. But there's more to do."
The announcement comes as tech companies, especially Google and its parent company Alphabet, face increased pressure from local communities claiming their expansion encroaches on the Bay Area's already-tight housing market and displaces long-time residents. The move could also be an attempt to preempt protests planned for the Alphabet shareholders meeting Wednesday, as some activists are concerned about Google's effects on housing prices and local communities.
More than 45,000 Google employees live in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to Pichai.
The $1 billion will be broken up into a few different funding types.
Google will, over the next 10 years, rezone $750 million worth of its property, most of which is currently zoned for commercial and office space. That means Google could knock down existing offices to enable housing.
Nonprofits focused on homelessness and displacement will get $50 million, and $250 million will go toward an investment fund for developers specifically to build affordable housing.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo cheered the announcement, which comes as the company is planning a major expansion in that city. ""For several months, we have encouraged Google to make a bold commitment to address our region's affordable housing challenge. We look forward to working with Google to ensure today's announcement manifests into housing that will benefit thousands of San José residents struggling under the burden of high rents."