- Apple has pledged $2.5 billion to help address California’s housing crisis, which will be used to build affordable housing and aid first-time home buyers, among other things.
- Other major tech companies like Google and Facebook have made their own contributions to this cause, though Apple’s is the largest.
- The state’s housing crisis has led to massive issues due to the increasing prices of property in the state. Residents are being priced out of the Bay Area, with many saying that the presence of tech companies is behind this.
- Housing demand is another facet of the issue, as the state is not building enough affordable housing for its population.
Apple Pledges $2.5 Billion
Apple has become the latest tech giant to pledge money to aid the housing crisis in California, offering $2.5 billion to the cause.
Their plan will give $1 billion to an affordable housing investment, which they say will be the first of its kind in California. The fund will allow the state and others to open a line of credit for new housing for very low-to-moderate-income residents. Another $1 billion will go to a first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund, which will help with downpayment assistance and provide more opportunities to buy for people like service personnel, school employees and veterans.
Apple will also give $300 million in Apple-owned land in San Jose to make available for affordable housing. The rest will go to a Bay Area housing fund and means to support vulnerable populations. Currently, the company anticipates it will take two years for this plan to be utilized.
California’s housing crisis is not a new issue, and many have pointed to tech companies for pricing long-time residents out of now expensive areas. In the company’s statement, CEO Tim Cook said the company feels a responsibility to make sure Silicon Valley can continue to be a home for its residents.
“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,” Cook said. “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.”
Apple is not the first major tech company to contribute to this ongoing issue, though it has offered the largest sum to it thus far. In October, Facebook committed $1 billion to address the housing crisis in California. In June, Google also pledged a $ billion to build homes in the Bay Area. Over in Seattle, which is experiencing a similar problem, Microsoft pledged $500 million for affordable housing.
California Governor Gavin Newsom applauded Apple for taking this recent step and encouraged more companies to follow suit
“This unparalleled financial commitment to affordable housing, and the innovative strategies at the heart of this initiative, are proof that Apple is serious about solving this issue,” Newsom said in Apple’s statement. “I hope other companies follow their lead.”
Housing Crisis In California
Finding housing in California has become increasingly difficult due to both cost and demand. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, California has the second-highest housing wage in the country. In order to afford a 2-bedroom rental home, renters would need to earn an hourly wage of $34.69. If someone were making the state’s minimum wage, which is $12 per hour, they would need to work 116 hours a week to afford that same space.
On the demand side of the issue, homes are also not being added at the rate of the state’s growing population. According to the McKinsey Global Institute’s 2016 report on California’s housing gap, “Since 2005, California has added 308 units for every 1,000 new inhabitants.” To put that number in perspective, New York added 549 houses in the same timeframe.
Tech Companies’ Role in the Crisis and What is Being Done
Apple addressed some of these issues in their press release, noting that in the Bay Area, homeownership is at a seven-year low. They also stated that just between April and June of this year, 30,000 people moved out of San Francisco. The company pointed towards residents being priced out as a potential cause.
This idea of residents being priced out is where tech companies come in as a cause of the housing crisis. With so many major tech headquarters calling California’s Bay Area and neighboring areas home, prices there go up. Not just tech moguls live in Silicon Valley, however, and these increasing prices are impossible for low and middle-income residents to afford.
In a 2018 report, CNN spoke to Karen Chapple, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who researches governance, planning, and development of U.S. cities. She told them that having these wide income gaps causes a “mismatch” when it comes to housing.
“We have high tech jobs which generate a lot of service jobs: hair-cutting salons, nail salons and masseuses, yoga studios and dog care,” Chapple told the outlet. “High-end jobs and low-end jobs [are] created at the same time, but you have a housing market that is really only producing for folks at the high end of the scale. There is a mismatch.”
Housing crises do not just lead to residents moving, but also a homelessness problem throughout the state. San Jose alone has said their homeless population has increased by 40 percent in just two years.
Tech companies are not the only ones trying to find answers to the problem. In October, Governor Newsom signed legislation that will cap annual rent hikes throughout the state. It caps rent increases, in most cases, at five percent plus inflation for the next decade.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hill)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (The Daily Mail) (Insider)
Biden Administration Orders ICE To Halt Workplace Raids
The Department of Homeland Security will now focus on targeting employers who exploit undocumented workers, instead of carrying out raids that dissuade those workers from reporting labor violations.
DHS Reverses Worksite Raid Policy
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop workplace raids.
The move marks a reversal from Trump administration policies that have been strongly criticized by immigration activists who argue the efforts created fear in immigrant communities and dissuaded them from reporting labor violations or exploitative employment practices.
In addition to stopping the raids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memo that the administration will refocus enforcement efforts to instead target “employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.”
Mayorkas added that the immigration agencies housed in DHS will have the next 60 days to identify harmful existing policies and come up with new ones that provide better deportation protections for workers who report their employers.
In the Tuesday memo, the secretary argued that shift of focus will “reduce the demand for illegal employment by delivering more severe consequences to exploitative employers” and “increase the willingness of workers to report violations of law by exploitative employers and cooperate in employment and labor standards investigation.”
Labor Market Implications
The new policy comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a critical labor shortage, including in many sectors that rely on immigrant labor.
Some companies that use undocumented workers pay them wages that are far below the market rate, which is not only exploitative but also undercuts competitors.
According to Mayorkas, the pivot to employer-based enforcement will help protect American businesses.
“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” he said in the memo. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”
It is currently unclear how effective the new efforts will be, but historical precedent does not paint an optimistic picture.
The Biden administration’s efforts closely mirror a similar move by the Obama administration, which attempted to reverse workplace raids authorized under President George W. Bush by targetting those who employ undocumented workers rather than the workers themselves.
That effort, however, still led to thousands of undocumented workers being fired.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (ABC News)
Mom Charged for Hosting Secret Teen Parties, Pressuring Kids To Drink and Engage in Sex Acts
Investigators said some of the sex acts between teens were non-consensual and at times took place while the mother stood by laughing.
Mother Hit With Dozens of Charges
A California mother is facing 39 criminal charges after hosting a series of illegal parties for her teenage son and his mostly 14- and 15-year-old friends that regularly led to dangerous accidents and sexual assaults.
The mother, 47-year-old Shannon O’Connor, also known as Shannon Bruga, is currently awaiting extradition to Santa Clara County. According to The Mercury News, she was arrested Saturday in Ada County, Idaho, where she has a home in addition to her property in Los Gatos that is currently on the market.
Her criminal charges include 12 felony counts and 10 misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, one count of misdemeanor sexual battery, three counts of misdemeanor child molestation, and 13 misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors.
“It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a press release regarding the case. “As a parent, I’m shocked. As the DA, I’m determined to hold those adults who endanger children fully accountable to the law and our community.”
What Happened During the Parties?
Investigators claim O’Connor organized the functions, attended by as many as 20 teens, via text message and Snapchat. She would then allegedly supply the teens with alcohol and push them to binge drink, often to the point of illness or unconsciousness.
The harm that resulted from their intoxication included one teen breaking a finger and another almost drowning in a hot tub, among other serious situations.
In another instance, O’Connor let an unlicensed drunk teen drive her car. Her son and another one of his friends then hung off the back while it was moving, which caused the friend to fall, hit his head, and become unconscious for 30 seconds. He was later diagnosed with a concussion after spending the night vomiting.
O’Connor is additionally accused of manipulating and encouraging drunk teens to participate in sex acts with one another, which were sometimes non-consensual or carried out while she watched. In some cases, she allegedly laughed while the sexual acts happened or when assault victims asked her why she didn’t step in to help.
Investigators added that O’Connor required teens who attended her parties to keep them a secret. She’s even accused of helping them sneak out of their homes so she could drive them to her events. Authorities said she was found to have bullied at least one teen who she suspected of breaking the secret.
“Everyone should feel relieved this woman’s not on the street,” the parents of one assault victim told The Mercury News. “She was grooming these kids, setting them up for sexual acts, and she’s a mother and doing this to her own child. … I’ve been racking my brain trying to think what was in it for her.“