- Sunnyvale, CA-based cloud services company NetApp announced it will invest $10 million in building and preserving affordable housing in Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
- The money will go toward the Housing Trust Silicon Valley's Tech+Equity+Community+Housing (TECH) Fund, a privately-financed fund that preserves and creates affordable housing in the region.
- The TECH Fund launched in 2017 with the intention of creating 10,000 affordable units in its first 10 years. With NetApp's investment the fund has now raised $62 million for more than 2,000 housing units at 18 developments. Other investors include the Cisco Foundation and LinkedIn.
Cities and advocacy groups welcome private partners willing to offer financial and resource investments to reverse or slow America's deepening housing affordability crisis. But some view tech companies' contributions less as a benevolent measure and more as an obligatory one to counteract their role in the housing crisis.
It's no secret that housing prices have shot up in the cities considered major tech hubs. Seattle and Silicon Valley — along with the greater San Francisco Bay Area — have been ground zero for housing price spikes due to the influx of highly-skilled, highly-paid tech workers. A rise in homelessness has followed in many of these areas where affordable housing options have become scarce. California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently said the lack of affordable housing in the state directly contributes to increases in the homeless population; federal government data shows California leads the nation in homelessness.
Leaders at the state and city levels have been working to address the problem. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an executive order earlier this year to create more low- and middle-income affordable housing. Last year Seattle passed a tax on the city's highest grossing businesses to fund homelessness mitigation programs, but it was repealed soon after due to pushback from the business community, labeling the measure as "anti-business." Reports out of the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay area last spring indicated a similar "head tax" was under consideration in several municipalities there.
Some view the tech industry boom as an example of participants reaping the rewards of their hard work and innovation. Others believe the tech industry largely contributed to the affordable housing crisis and should be held accountable for the negative consequences it has brought to cities in the way of rapid growth and rising cost-of-living.
NetApp's investment in the TECH Fund is the latest example of tech companies increasingly making voluntary contributions to cities' homelessness mitigation and affordable housing efforts. Two years ago, Amazon agreed to share half its space in a new Seattle office building with a homeless shelter. And this year, cloud technology company Okta pledged $500,000 to a Bay Area nonprofit that seeks solutions to homelessness and poverty.