Bay Area tech leaders pony up $20 million to fight housing shortage

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Three local tech companies will donate a total of $20 million to build affordable homes in the Bay Area, a step forward for activists who have long been urging Silicon Valley, and its money, to take a more active role in solving the region’s drastic housing shortage.

Cisco on Tuesday pledged $10 million to nonprofit Housing Trust Silicon Valley, and LinkedIn and Mountain View-based data storage company Pure Storage each pledged $5 million.

The money will go toward building homes for the Bay Area’s low-income families via the Housing Trust’s TECH Fund, which launched last year as a way for local employers and philanthropists to help ease the housing crisis.

“TECH Fund has now passed $50 million, laid the groundwork for 1,500 affordable homes, and momentum is building in our efforts,” Julie Mahowald, acting CEO of Housing Trust Silicon Valley, wrote in a news release. “Imagine how much further we can go if more organizations step in.”

Tuesday’s contributions come as Bay Area officials, developers and nonprofits are struggling to build enough homes to reverse a dire housing shortage that has driven prices to staggering heights and forced many residents to flee the region. Residents often blame Silicon Valley’s booming tech economy, but many other complex factors, including local government policies and neighborhood sentiment, also contribute to the housing shortage.

So far, TECH Fund money has been used to get 15 residential developments off the ground throughout Silicon Valley, including a 70-unit complex on W. El Camino Real and a 93-unit complex on La Avenida Avenue in Mountain View.

LinkedIn and Cisco are second-time donors – each previously donated $10 million to the TECH Fund last year. Separately, Cisco also pledged $50 million to fight homelessness in Silicon Valley in March, Facebook has raised nearly $20 million for affordable housing through its Catalyst Housing Fund, and Salesforce has made multiple donations to fight homelessness in the Bay Area.

“We’re committed to playing our part in solving the challenge of affordable housing,” Charles Giancarlo, chairman and CEO of Pure Storage, wrote in a news release. “As a Bay Area company, we believe we have a responsibility to help tackle the local housing crisis head-on.”