Google Backs San Jose Housing Project as Part of Funding Pledge
(Bloomberg) -- Google is providing a $5.3 million loan to The Kelsey, a two-year-old nonprofit that’s seeking to develop affordable housing for people with disabilities.
The financing will help jump-start a development in San Jose, the first specific project that the tech giant has backed since announcing a $250 million fund dedicated to addressing the San Francisco Bay Area’s affordable housing shortage.
As Google and other tech titans look to alleviate a situation that they’re often blamed for exacerbating, many of the details of their initiatives are still being ironed out. While the low-interest loan to The Kelsey is relatively small, Google said the investment is a model for its future work.
Google is also lending its name to an organization with fresh ideas on housing, according to Chris Taylor, Google’s finance lead for affordable housing investing.
“We’re a big entity and people assume we did a lot of due diligence -- which we did -- and, hopefully, that’s a feather in their cap,” he said.
Google said earlier this year that it was committing $1 billion to easing a regional housing crisis. Earlier this month, Facebook Inc. followed suit with its own $1 billion program. Microsoft Corp. led the pack in January with a $500 million pledge to invest in affordable housing in the Seattle area.
Google’s funds will allow The Kelsey to purchase a lot in San Jose, which will be about a 25-minute walk from where the tech company is planning a massive new campus. Of the 115 units, 89 will be offered at below-market rates and 28 will be earmarked for people with developmental disabilities.
Micaela Connery, founder and chief executive officer of The Kelsey, started the organization after watching her cousin and others with disabilities struggle to find housing as they became adults. Having Google’s backing, she said, will help finance the early phase of the project and hopefully boost an $11 million philanthropic fundraising effort needed to complete it.
“We hope that Google is the catalytic first supporter,” she said. “Now, we need other foundations and individuals to help with our next phase of funding.”
Google previously announced that it was giving $50 million to Housing Trust Silicon Valley’s TECH Fund, which is supporting a variety of affordable housing projects.
As Google looks to deploy the rest of its housing investment, it’s prioritizing developments with 100 apartments or more, according to Taylor. It also wants to fund new buildings that demonstrate innovative, cost-saving construction techniques.
“Bending the cost-curve is important to us,” he said.
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