Google has added another string to its philanthropic bow by donating $2 million to help San Francisco’s homeless population. The internet giant made the timely announcement on Thursday during the worst storms the bay-city has seen in five years.
The money, which is being distributed through the company’s philanthropic arm google.org, will be shared among three non-profit organizations. Hamilton Family Centre, a group that works to identify and house homeless families in San Francisco Unified School District, will receive $1million. Larkin Street Youth Services which provides adults with education and job training programs, and HandUp, an online platform that directly links low-income people with donors, are reported to be receiving $500,000 each.
Hamilton Family Centre executive director Jeff Kositsky told The San Francisco Examiner that their $1 million will be allocated toward housing 50 homeless families using rent subsidies and fund eviction prevention services for a further 50 families. Google’s donation will also be used to hire additional case managers to work within their schools programs, which aim to educate school staff on available resources to help those families at risk. Kositsky said the past five years has seen steady increase in the number of homeless students in the city.
A 2013 count of homeless people in San Francisco revealed that 6,436 adults were living in shelters and on the street. Estimates show 2,100 children attending the city’s schools are also homeless. However these figures do not account for people who drift or stay out of sight, and do appear to be diminishing despite the city’s $165 million budget for supportive housing and assistance schemes.
Despite Google’s $2 million gift to help San Francisco’s homeless, the organization has been seen by some groups as partly responsible for the city’s current level of homelessness. With a continual stream of young, tech-driven entrepreneurs arriving to stake their claim in Silicon Valley, San Francisco’s rental costs have spiraled upwards, leaving many former residents homeless.
City mayor Ed Lee, who has also been criticized for favoring the technology companies and not addressing the tech industry’s financial impact on the city’s housing situation, told a press conference that public-private partnerships are becoming integral in helping governments to help social-service and community agencies succeed. “Every one who lives here can get support,” the mayor said. However according to a Reuter’s news report, the Brookings Institute lists San Francisco as having the second-highest level of income inequality in the U.S., second only to Atlanta, Georgia.
While Google continues to be criticized for its part in changing the affordability of San Francisco, the company has reportedly donated over $100 million to the Bay Area’s non-profit organizations over the past 14 years, through a variety of projects. Though much of their philanthropy is directed toward their local area, google.org has also spent money on many other community projects such as education, the fight against Ebola, and the fight against human trafficking and child abuse.
Other Silicon Valley companies such as Salesforce and Twitter have also directed a portion of their profits toward helping their local bay-side city. When commenting on Google’s $2 million donation to help San Francisco’s homeless community, google.org portfolio manager Justin Steele commented that the city was home to many ‘Googlers.’ “This is our community. These are our neighbors,” Steele said.
By Monica Grant
Photo by Sergio Pani – Flickr Page