By Thomas C. Schultheis
Santa Barbara Association of REALTORS®
As California continues to struggle with affordable housing, tech companies have committed billions of dollars to aid housing development and give financing options to homebuyers.
Apple is the latest, announcing this week that it would allocate $2.5 billion to help address the housing availability and affordability crisis in California. Apple says its $2.5 billion will go to expand new housing production, establish a first-time home buyer fund, and support new housing and programs to reduce homelessness.
Apple’s announcement comes on the heels of Facebook, which announced last month it would devote $1 billion toward housing. In June, Google announced a $1 billion commitment in land and money to build homes to ease the housing crisis in the East Bay Area. Other tech companies have followed suit, such as Microsoft’s $500 million pledge toward affordable housing in Seattle, and Airbnb’s $25 million programs toward affordable housing in the Bay Area and Los Angeles County.
As tech continues to grow and expand into the central coast, companies like Amazon may become unexpected allies in the fight to help our affordable housing crisis in Santa Barbara.
Just as the new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) laws may, in part, help with the state’s housing issues, this is another encouraging sign that we as a state are beginning to take this problem seriously. It seems to be clear that both the public and private sectors are seeking to address housing in their own way. There is no doubt that, no matter what the approach, there will be issues and challenges moving forward. My hope is that both sectors can find a way to work together to create meaningful and deliberate change in coming years.