Can Apple Solve California’s Housing Crisis?

Delton Rhodes
Nov 4, 2019 · 3 min read

When thinking about Apple, the first thing that comes to mind is consumer tech products. Apple's’s Special Events in which it debuts the latest updates for iPhone, AirPods, Apple TV+, and other products are what gains the most media attention. It hasn’t historically been recognized for investing significant capital to solve the world’s problems. This is beginning to change, however.

With the November 4 announcement that Apple will spend $2.5 billion to solve California’s housing crisis, the tech giant could be setting a new example for how companies in a capitalist-driven world can put forth efforts that help society as a whole.

How Bad Is California’s Housing Crisis?

According to some estimates, greater than 47 percent of all unhoused homeless people in America reside in California. There are approximately 130,000 homeless people in the state. This includes 28,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area, 60,000 in Los Angeles County, and over 8,000 in San Diego.

According to a Forbes article from September 2019, California’s state government recently awarded Los Angeles $124 million for the homelessness emergency. LA’s mayor has already spent $66 million on 27 cheap, quick-to-assemble temporary shelters that can quickly get 13,000 people off the street.

How Can Corporations Help?

For starters, Apple’s pledge of $2.5 billion is over 20 times the amount recently allotted by California’s state government. Apple also isn’t alone in this effort. In June, Google pledged $1 billion. In October, Facebook pledged an additional $1 billion.

Perhaps even more important is that corporations like Apple could help to de-politicize homelessness as an issue related to right-wing or left-wing policies. In the political spectrum, big tech has become a major point of contention. Many people blame wealthy corporations and individuals for causing the housing crisis, increasing income inequality, and other national issues. Apple’s pledge shows that corporations are finally recognizing the severity of the housing crisis.

The San Francisco Bay Area has a homeless population of 28,000

Apple’s Funding Allocation

The $2.5 billion will be spread across five programs.

  1. $1 billion — Affordable housing investment fund
  2. $1 billion — First-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund
  3. $300 million — Apple-owned and available land for affordable housing
  4. $150 million — Bay Area housing fund
  5. $50 million — Support vulnerable populations

“Affordable housing means stability and dignity, opportunity and pride. When these things fall out of reach for too many, we know the course we are on is unsustainable, and Apple is committed to being part of the solution.” Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Setting An Example For Big Tech

The housing crisis isn’t only about the homeless population. It’s also about tackling the decreasing buying power of the middle class. As Apple’s official announcement states, “Community members like teachers, firefighters, first responders and service workers are increasingly having to make the difficult choice to leave behind the community they have long called home. Nearly 30,000 people left San Francisco between April and June of this year1 and homeownership in the Bay Area is at a seven-year low.”

Can Apple’s funding in the Bay Area set an example of how big tech investments in the future of American communities? Only time will tell. This commitment is a crucial first step towards providing the funding that people need.

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