Apple on Monday said it will put up $2.5 billion toward easing California's housing crisis. The sum from Apple eclipses pledges by fellow Silicon Valley giants Google and Facebook for addressing the lack of affordable housing in a region where affluent tech workers have helped drive up the cost of homes. Apple's commitment Monday includes a $1 billion statewide fund creating an "open line of credit" for the state to build new homes for households with low to moderate incomes, the AP reports. Another $1 billion is a mortgage assistance fund for first-time homebuyers. "It's a recognition that the San Francisco Bay Area is in a major housing crisis," said David Shulman, a senior economist with the Anderson Forecast at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Shulman said it's a good step but might not make much difference if it's just creating "cheap financing" for development and down payment relief for people who earn enough to be able to buy a home in the expensive region. The company's promise also includes $300 million to make 40 acres of Apple-owned land in San Jose available for affordable housing—a strategy that Shulman said is more effective because sky-high land prices are at the root of the housing crisis. Apple is also investing in a $150 million partnership with a Bay Area nonprofit to support new affordable housing projects with long-term forgivable loans and grants; and $50 million to address homelessness in the region. Google and Facebook this year each promised $1 billion to help address high housing costs.
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