Facebook’s Catalyst Fund Creates Hundreds of Affordable Homes Near Menlo Park Headquarters

By Menka Sethi, Director, Location Strategy & Site Optimization

The Bay Area is Facebook’s headquarters and our home, which is why we’re committed to addressing its housing crisis that weighs on our whole community. Today, we’re sharing an update on the Catalyst Housing Fund we created with $18.5 million in Facebook funding and many community partners to spur the construction of affordable housing and raise a total of $75 million for the cause.

Since our initial investment, the fund has produced and preserved approximately 600 affordable homes near our headquarters in Menlo Park, of which roughly 70% are reserved for extremely low and very low-income residents. We remain on track to creating approximately 750 affordable homes for our neighbors by 2022. 

Projects that have received Facebook funding include:

  • Light Tree Apartments, East Palo Alto, CA: The Light Tree Project by Eden Housing and EPACANDO will rehabilitate and preserve the affordability of 94 apartments, and add 91 new affordable homes for residents, including formerly unhoused neighbors, youth aging out of foster care and households with a family member who is disabled. The complex will be the first all-electric affordable housing development in San Mateo County and is within walking distance of public transit, shopping, schools, youth recreation facilities, a bike repair shop and a health center. (Updated on August 6, 2020 at 4:05PM PT to include partners and add clarifying details about the housing.)
  • Casa de Sobrato, Redwood City, CA: The St. Francis Center — a nonprofit led by Sister Christina Heltsley that offers refuge for community members facing homelessness — purchased Casa de Sobrato to renovate and preserve the affordability of nearly 50 apartments for local residents. 
  • 965 Weeks, East Palo Alto, CA: 965 Weeks by MidPen Housing and EPACANDO will offer more than 130 affordable homes for families struggling to keep up with the high cost of rent. The development will offer a vocational development center, after-school and summer programs for children, leadership development for youth, financial literacy programs and additional supportive services for special needs residents. (Updated on August 6, 2020 at 4:05PM PT to include partners.)
  • Walnut Street, San Carlos, CA: The Walnut Street Apartments will offer two dozen affordable apartments with supportive services to low-income residents just south of Downtown San Carlos.

What We’ve Learned

The Catalyst Housing Fund has sharpened our understanding of how we make progress on the Bay Area’s housing crisis. As a result, we’ve gone on to launch a pilot teacher housing program and an affordable housing preservation fund, while also making an additional $1-billion commitment to affordable housing in California over the next decade.

We’ve also learned that unlocking affordable housing for all will require more than financial investments. We will support changes to systems that prevent the development of housing across the income spectrum, including permanent supportive and affordable housing, and break down decades-long systems that perpetuate racial inequities in housing. We will also continue partnering with the community to direct how our funds are invested. 

We know there is much more work to do, and that it’s going to take all of us – technology companies, policymakers, elected leaders, community members and philanthropy partners – to address this crisis. 

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