Google moves into housing in Silicon Valley

Nick Myall
Tuesday 25 Jul 2017

US based tech companies are helping their employees to get onto the property ladder as they invest in new housing schemes

In common with countries across Europe, the USA is also dealing with its own housing crisis, and no more so than in Silicon Valley the home of a large cluster of tech companies. In a bid to deal with the problem Google is paying about $30m to provide temporary, prefab housing for 300 of its employees.

CNBC have reported that rents in parts of California and Silicon Valley have reached such unprecedented heights that some Facebook engineers have asked Mark Zuckerberg for help paying rent, some Twitter employees earning $160,000 feel like they're barely scraping by, and even some residents making six-figures can qualify as "low-income" and receive subsidies. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, Google’s parent company, Alphabet is making a significant investment in modular housing built and shipped in from elsewhere by the start-up Factory OS, because current local accommodation is so overpriced. San Francisco rents have jumped by almost 50% since 2010, while home prices have increased 98% since the bottom of the market in 2009.

Rents for these apartments are expected to be more moderate. Factory OS founder and CEO Rick Holliday told the Wall Street Journal  that "a previous project that Holliday built using modular technology saved tenants $700 a month in rent because of reduced construction costs."

Other tech companies are also helping their workers onto the property ladder in California with Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. commissioning  top architects Frank Gehry and Bjarke Ingels for expansions.

Facebook Inc. has pledged to plan and design 1,500 units in Rick Holliday’s Menlo Park development, of which 15% will be classified as affordable housing. The project is still in the early planning phase. A spokesman said the company is considering modular housing and is supportive of Mr. Holliday's project and "anything that has the potential to accelerate building housing in the Bay Area."

In addition, Apple Inc. has already begun moving thousands of its employees into Apple Park, the company's new 2.8-million-sq ft circular building in Cupertino, California. 

As Tech companies and Silicon Valley as a whole continues to expand the pressure on California’s housing will only continue to increase.

WAN’s Urban Challenge focuses on solving London’s Housing Crisis. To book tickets for the Housing Symposium click here.

Nick Myall

News editor

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