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Facebook invests major moola in affordable housing

The social network pledges $20 million to help its Silicon Valley neighbors buy and keep homes in an eye-wateringly expensive housing market.

Facebook wants to help neighbors find affordable housing in the crazy-expensive Valley.
Christopher Furlong/Getty

If you know anything about housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, you know it's crazy expensive. Single-family homes in Google and Apple's backyard that 40 years ago cost $30,000 now go for close to $1 million.

Facebook, which is located smack dab of Silicon Valley's housing mess, wants to do its part. The social network on Friday pledged to spend $20 million "to increase the production and protection of affordable housing," particularly for its lower-income neighbors.

But new housing is only part of the equation. More than $600,000 of the sum will go toward job-training for STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), the center of the tech industry's target for jobs and education. Facebook is also earmarking $500,000 to a fund dedicated to supporting tenants who are more likely to be pushed out of the area from evictions, safety issues and "landlord abuse."

Although Facebook's ritzy Menlo Park, California, headquarters is surrounded by wealth, it's also miles away from East Palo Alto, one of Silicon Valley's more economically depressed cities. "Many of our residents are a paycheck away from missing rent," Carlos Martinez, East Palo Alto's city manager, told CNET in 2015. Spending money on a sick child or broken-down car would be "enough for them to be evicted."

Facebook's local investment feeds back into keeping tech jobs and employees in Silicon Valley. Although tech neighbors like Google have recently funneled funds to fighting homelessness, Facebook's big move could encourage other tech giants to follow suit.