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Apple's $2.5 billion donation to tackle California's housing crisis is 'a part of a much larger puzzle'

Sarah A. Smith
Segment Producer/Booker

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders is taking direct aim at Apple (AAPL), after the tech giant announced it is donating $2.5 billion to combat the housing crisis in California.  

Sanders acknowledges the challenges California residents face, but openly criticized Apple’s pledge, writing in a statement that the announcement “is an effort to distract from the fact that [Apple] has helped create California’s housing crisis.”  

Tthe home of California’s tech hub of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, is seeing the startling impact of the homelessness crisis. In the past two years, the homeless population has increased by 31%, according to a 2019 homeless count from the county.

“The homelessness challenge that we're seeing today is is deep and wide,” says Ray Bramson, chief impact officer at Destination: Home, a public-private partnership working to end homelessness in Santa Clara County.

For Destination: Home, Apple’s donation is just one part of the solution to California’s housing crisis.

“I think what we see from significant investments like Apple coming to the fore, and providing the leadership and support, is that it's not going to just be just one organization, or one company, or one group that makes a change or difference,” Bramson told Yahoo Finance’s The Ticker this week. “We’re all going to need to come together to work on this housing crisis and make a change in the long term.”

Included in Apple’s $2.5 billion contribution was a multi-million dollar donation to Destination: Home to help further the organizations relief efforts. 

Homeless residents of River Haven, a tent encampment near the banks of the Santa Clara river. (Photo by Stephen Osman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“Apple as a leader, making a $50 million philanthropic investment, is going to help Destination: Home implement strategies that we've been working on for the past 10 years to fund new housing developments and to prevent over 1,500 families from becoming homeless next year. So it's a part of a much larger puzzle,” Bramson said. “But we need more leadership like this from our tech community if we're really going to get anywhere.” 

Apple is not the only tech giant to be criticized for contributing to the current housing affordability crisis in California, Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) have also been called out before. They are among the rising number of successful tech companies taking over Silicon Valley, driving property prices higher. 

The SilIcon Valley boom is not the only contributing factor for the housing crisis says Bramson, “but it certainly doesn’t help.” 

“We're seeing a place where it's just unaffordable for so many folks. And then we have seniors living on fixed incomes, disabled adults, families that are working multiple minimum wage jobs that just can't pay their rent. So it's a huge challenge,” Bramson said.  

The initial phase of short-term housing is just one step toward getting homeless people off the streets. Destination: Home believes the that the long-term solution is permanent housing, Bramson told Yahoo Finance.

“We also know that lots and lots of people, for every one person we house, three people are becoming homeless in our community. And we know that with just a little bit of assistance, a lot of those families are actually able to stay in their homes,” Bramson said. “So homelessness prevention is another key factor in keeping people that are housed, safe and stable over time.”

 Sarah Smith is a Segment Producer/Booker at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahasmith

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