Okta pledges $500K to fight homelessness in Bay Area
- Cloud technology company Okta announced a $500,000 donation to Tipping Point Community, a nonprofit seeking solutions to homelessness and poverty in the Bay Area.
- Additionally, Okta will donate space in its San Francisco headquarters to nonprofit organizations to hold meetings or events, and will give employees three days off a year to volunteer with local nonprofits. The company also announced its support for Opportunities for All, the initiative from San Francisco Mayor London Breed that seeks to get minority and disadvantaged youth involved in tech.
- In a statement, Okta COO and co-founder Frederic Kerrest said, "Our success is linked to our community: the only way Okta can continue to thrive is if our community is thriving as well."
As tech centers like San Francisco confront an affordable housing crisis, companies are increasingly filling the void with hefty donations. Healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente last month announced plans to spend $100 million nationally on a loan fund for low-income housing and $5.2 million on a 41-unit housing complex in Oakland, CA that it will maintain as affordable housing. Cisco pledged $50 million on solutions to homelessness in Silicon Valley last year, and Microsoft promised $500 million on affordable housing in Seattle.
Some residents have complained that the influx of tech companies has driven the affordable housing crisis in those cities, widening the inequality gap and driving up home prices for lower-income families (a recent Cushman & Wakefield report also found that tech was driving up commercial real estate costs). That’s led to significant friction, and attempts from the public sector to try to create more affordable housing.
In November, San Francisco voters passed Proposition C, a tax on big businesses to raise $300 million for homelessness, and Breed has tried to excess property tax revenue on affordable housing. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a $1.3 billion general fund and expanded tax credits for housing development.
Those public proposals have helped spur more giving from the companies themselves. The individual donations are likely not enough to fix the affordable housing crisis on their own, but do fit into a broader trend of cities pushing their big businesses to give back. Los Angeles, for example, created PledgeLA, to help tech and venture capital firms publicly track diversity and engagement with the community. Breed’s Opportunities for All has also attracted big players, like Uber, in a bid to bring more diversity to the industry.
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