Google invests in affordable housing project

September 4, 2013 5:28:12 PM PDT
Many people rely on Google for answers and in Mountain View, some low-income residents have found Google to be the answer to their affordable housing needs.

Google invested about $6 million toward building the newly-opened Franklin Street Family Apartments -- 51 units of affordable housing. That $6 million is a drop in the bucket for Google, which has $54 billion in cash, but what a difference it's making.

On the outside, the Franklin Street Family Apartments have a Mediterranean villa look, the kind of upscale complex you'd expect to be high rent. After all, they are in Silicon Valley. "Some of the new apartments in town are going for $5,500 a month for a two-bedroom apartment," said Mountain View city councilmember Mike Kasperzak.

However, these were designed to meet the growing need for affordable housing for people making, on average, about $44,000 a year. That's half the median income in Santa Clara County. The $23 million project attracted Mountain View-based Google as an investor, which bought just over $6 million in bonds.

"We believe in affordable housing, everyone having an affordable home and we think this is a responsible way, both to our shareholders and the community, to actually put our money where our mouth is," said Google Corporate Finance Senior Manager Kojo ako Asare.

There's an incentive for Google. A federal tax credit designed to attract capital for affordable housing projects. "They will realize in tax credits about the same amount that they put in. So for example, and this is not what they did, but say they put $10 million in a project. They would get $10 million in tax credits over a 10-year period," explained Christopher Long at Aegon Realty Advisors.

A 1-bedroom unit rents for $937, a 2-bedroom for $1,122, and a 3-bedroom for $1,291. Mary Kroeger and her husband are both disabled. Living at the Franklin Street Family Apartments makes a difference.

"Our kids aren't worried about us. That's like our biggest thing, is making sure that we're not a burden to our kids before they even get started," Mary Kroeger told ABC7 News.

It also puts Christina Zimmerman, a mother of three, on a stronger financial footing. "I'm able to actually start saving now. I do have a little bit in my savings, which is a good thing on my part. So, it's definitely helped in so many more ways than what I can explain," she said.


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