Social media networking colossus Facebook has vowed to begin constructing homes in an attempt to alleviate the housing problem which has plagued Silicon Valley. Facebook, which is headquartered in the technological hub of the US, has announced that it plans to build 1,500 units - which will be located near its HQ.
However, many have said the housing issue in Silicon Valley has been caused by the growth of tech organizations such as Facebook and Google. The neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay area were not adequately prepared for tens of thousands of working moving there in the last decade - and as a result of this mass influx, house prices and commute times have subsequently increased.
Tech firms have been trying to respond to the issues which have been on-going for some time, by introducing measures such as internet-equipped buses for employees who faced long commutes. In addition to this, it was reported that Facebook was offering employees $10,000 in incentive payments to move closer to its offices.
However, those measures have not had the desired effect, and the volume of complaints which claim tech companies are responsible for making communities 'unaffordable' has not subsided. An economist at real estate research firm Core-Logic, Sam Khater, said the policies introduced by Facebook and other tech firms failed to address the primary issue, which is a shortage of homes in the area. He said: "The problem with Silicon Valley is you don't have enough supply to keep up with the demand."
Facebook has now decided to meet the issue head on - and take the housing crisis into its own hands by announcing its construction vision. Facebook has disclosed that it plans to invest in Menlo Park, which is a city located about 45 miles (72km) south of San Francisco where it moved in 2011. In addition to this, the global social media giants also said it would construct a 'village' which will include shops, hotels and a pharmacy. "Part of our vision is to create a neighborhood center that provides long-needed community services," John Tenanes, Facebook's vice president for global facilities.
However, the properties will be open to anyone, and are not just for Facebook employees, although it's been claimed that 15% of the homes will be offered at below market rates. Facebook said that it expects the review process into the project to take around two years. Google's Alphabet has also entered the fray, although on a much smaller scale. It has purchased 300 modular apartment units for short-term employee housing, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal last month.
The Mayor of Menlo Park, Kirsten Keith expressed her concern that Facebook's plan would increase traffic. Urban congestion is already a problem in the San Francisco Bay area - and the Mayor added that the city's planning department would study Facebook's plans in an effort to establish how much traffic would be increased by the new construction. She said, though, that Facebook's plan fits with the city's own long-term plan for development, and that the city was excited about the additional housing.