Facebook steps up efforts to support its Menlo Park community with $20M housing donation

facebook housing catalyst front sign headquarters hq offices home fb
Facebook has announced it is partnering with a coalition of local community groups to support affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

As part of the initiative, Facebook is promising to donate $20 million to a series of local projects that include the development of low-cost housing units in Menlo Park, a tenant assistance fund, and vocational training for local residents.

Facebook is also busy planning a major expansion of its own HQ in the locality. The move will see the company extend its campus to make room for an additional 6,500 employees. Last month, Facebook opened the doors to its new flagship building, a 430,000 square foot space where it is housing just under a third of its global team. And, earlier this year, the company casually dropped $400 million on a 56-acre industrial park close to its main building.

However, some residents aren’t welcoming its construction plans. An alliance of local community members led by former Menlo Park mayor Steve Schmidt is opposing the tech firm’s development proposals. They claim the influx of affluent Facebook employees into the region will drive up house rental costs in the East Palo Alto area, and compound income inequality.

“Whether it is in promoting (developer) Greenheart or Facebook, we have found city officials to be oblivious to possible alternatives to unbridled growth,” group member Martin Lamarque told Palo Alto publication The Daily News in August.

San Francisco currently ranks first in California for economic disparity, according to the California Budget and Policy Center. Although Silicon Valley has contributed to the creation of half a million jobs since 2010, it has fallen short when it comes to affordable housing. Between 2007 and 2014, the area saw a mere 26 percent of new homes built for low-income residents, a shortfall of 26,000 homes.

To combat this housing crisis, Facebook is committing the vast majority of its donation ($18.5 million) to develop and preserve affordable homes. Additionally, it will contribute $500,000 for a tenant assistance fund, and $250,000 for the building and upkeep of housing.

To help expand economic opportunities for local residents, the company will contribute $625,000 toward vocational training for science, tech, engineering, and mathematics jobs. Facebook will also establish a full-time community liaison to ensure local residents can connect with open positions at its own HQ.

“Menlo Park faces the same challenges as many of our neighboring communities in how to secure and grow our diverse residential neighborhoods with housing prices soaring, managing the onslaught of traffic impacts and how to deliver the best education we can to our children,” said Menlo Park Mayor, Rich Cline. “I think such challenges become opportunities if we find ways to unite our cities and community organizations and bring in bold policies all with a revenue model to help bring about real and positive change. Facebook is the ideal partner to rally our region into action.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the following about the initiative in a post on his official Page on the social network: “Affordable housing is a problem beyond the Bay Area, too. We can’t fix it by ourselves, but if we figure out ideas that work here, then I hope we’ll be able to bring them to more cities and countries in the future.”

Social Media

Instagram now lets you post to multiple accounts in one tap

Instagram for iPhone now lets you post to multiple accounts at the same time. It's not the regram feature that many users have been asking for, but it could prove useful for some users who manage more than one profile.

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Movies & TV

From premiere date to footage: Here's all we have on 'Game of Thrones' season 8

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Social Media

Invite your friends — Facebook Events can now be shared to Stories

Facebook is testing a way to make plans with friends to attend an event -- through Stories. By sharing an event in Facebook Stories, users can message other friends interested in the event to make plans to attend together.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Social Media

Twitter extends its new timeline feature to Android users

Twitter users with an Android device can now quickly switch between an algorithm-generated timeline and one that shows the most recent tweets first. The new feature landed for iPhone users last month.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. users don’t realize Facebook tracks their interests

Did you know Facebook tracks your interests, including political and multicultural affiliations? According to a recent Pew study, 74 percent of adult users in the U.S. have no idea Facebook keeps a running list of your interests.

It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.