SV@Home Executive Director Leslye Corsiglia explains the realities of  the housing crisis and the what Google’s $1B annoucment means in the big picture to the Financial Times.

Googleʼs donation “is significant, though the problem that weʼre fighting was created over many, many years, weʼre not going to solve it quickly”, said Lesley Corsiglia, executive director of SV@Home, a housing group in Santa Clara county, which encompasses much of the tech region.

Tech company says donation could lead to 20,000 new homes over the next decade

Google said it would contribute $1bn over the next decade to the construction of new housing close to its offices in Silicon Valley, marking the biggest attempt yet by a leading technology company to alleviate the regionʼs acute housing shortage and traffic congestion.

The internet giant promised to release land worth $750m for development, along with $250m in incentives for developers to build affordable housing. In all, it predicted the donations would lead to 20,000 new homes over the next 10 years, a significant number given that only 3,000 were built in the South Bay — the region encompassing Silicon Valley — last year.

Googleʼs donation “is significant, though the problem that weʼre fighting was created over many, many years, weʼre not going to solve it quickly”, said Lesley Corsiglia, executive director of SV@Home, a housing group in Santa Clara county, which encompasses much of the tech region.

She pointed to recent moves by other tech companies as evidence that the industry was starting to get to grips with its local impact. These have included Facebookʼs plan to create new housing as part of an office expansion, and Microsoftʼs promise of $500m to support middle- and low income housing in the cities around its headquarters near Seattle.

Some local activists complain that the big tech companies have not done enough given the rapid expansion of their own workforces, and blamed them for pushing out other workers and making the region unaffordable to lower-paid people, including the many contractors the companies themselves depend on.

Silicon Valleyʼs cities and towns generally responded to the rise of the local tech industry by incentivising commercial development rather than residential, meaning that they could raise more taxes without needing to fund more services for local residents. Besides leaving them short of homes, that has brought chronic congestion to the regionʼs freeways as workers often commute long distances.

Google has some 23,000 workers in Mountain View, where it is headquartered, and will probably add another 12,000 over the next decade, according to Lenny Siegel, a former mayor. The company has also been spreading into nearby Sunnyvale and is planning a new development in nearby San Jose that could eventually add another 20,000 workers.

Releasing commercial land for housing development was important, Mr Siegel said, because a lot of the recent development in the area had been done by ripping down affordable housing and new land was needed to expand the overall supply of homes.

“In many of the communities around here, weʼre pretty much built out,” he said, adding that by making land available close to its offices, Google was also helping to counter the congestion and greenhouse gas emissions from local traffic.

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