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$2B From Austin Tech Companies Sought to Fund Housing Projects

A group of community activists has challenged technology companies in Austin, Texas, to step forward with $2 billion to fund programs associated with housing, according to the Austin Monitor. 

The group—called the Development Without Displacement Coalition—held a press conference at Austin City Hall Wednesday, saying it wants to speak with representatives from Apple, Google, Facebook, and other employers who have drawn thousands of highly-paid workers to the city. Rising incomes have caused home prices to rise by nearly 40% in the past five years, according to the report.  

“So many tech companies have moved in and we’re at kind of a critical mass or tipping point because the tech economy influences the way people live,” said Frank Rodriguez, a group leader and former policy aide to Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “High-tech job seekers are delighted, but first-time buyers and renters aren’t feeling the benefits of tech companies, which have mostly been filtered to the wealthy, and they often displace working-class black, white and Latino communities.”

The group says that any funds that may come in from tech companies should be directed toward existing nonprofit groups and community development corporations that fund new affordable housing or programs for rental assistance, stipends for first-time homebuyers, and home repairs. 

Rodriguez added the $2 billion figure was created with data provided by the city’s Innovation Office that found more than 232,00 households were at risk of displacement—more than $8,600 in assistance per home to help protect them from fast-rising property values. 

Apple recently released its $2.5 billion plan to help address the housing shortage and affordability issues in California. 

“Before the world knew the name Silicon Valley, and long before we carried technology in our pockets, Apple called this region home, and we feel a profound civic responsibility to ensure it remains a vibrant place where people can live, have a family and contribute to the community,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “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.”

A report by CNBC states that Apple has long been the largest employer in Silicon Valley, opening its new headquarters in Apple Park, in Cupertino in 2017. Google is currently developing an 80-acre campus in San Jose. 

Apple joins Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, who have all made contributions in recent weeks to help fix the affordable housing crisis in California. 

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.

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