News

Facebook announces $1.5M in grants for accessory units

Funds to be used for building housing, improving construction process

Pastor Paul Bains leads United Hope Builders, which received a grant from the Facebook Innovation Fund to build a factory in East Palo Alto to manufacture prefabricated homes and employ local residents. He is pictured here outside of a modular home in East Palo Alto on Jan. 25, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Facebook announced Thursday that it planned to use $1.5 million from its Innovation Fund to provide grants to five organizations working to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs), or secondary homes.

The Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, in partnership with Facebook and the city of Menlo Park, announced the five grantees set to use the Facebook funds toward building housing, improving the efficiency of the construction process and ultimately driving down the cost of housing production, according to a Facebook press statement.

"We're committed to listening to our neighbors so we collectively address the housing crisis in our local community through our 'three Ps' approach producing, protecting and preserving housing," said Facebook Director of Policy Juan Salazar in the statement.

The grants will be made to East Palo Alto Community Alliance and Neighborhood Development Organization, Preserving Affordable Housing Assets Longterm Inc. and Youth United for Community Action to build two secondary homes as part of a co-op community land trust with a leadership development program; to United Hope Builders, to build a factory in East Palo Alto to manufacture prefabricated homes and employ local residents; to City Systems, to create a project showcasing secondary home constructions in garages; to Soup, to promote a new financing model with low upfront costs for financing secondary homes; and to Symbium, to help homeowners and nonprofits plan ADUs and aid cities in streamlining the approval processes for the secondary homes, sometimes referred to as in-law units or granny cottages.

"United Hope Builders is tackling the housing crisis in the Bay Area head on, by building a steel modular housing factory in East Palo Alto — creating 100 great jobs — and working with counties, cities, faith-based and other non-traditional land owners to develop affordable housing on their land," said Pastor Paul Bains, chair of United Hope Builders.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Join

According to the statement, the grant program is guided by the findings of a University of California at Berkeley study funded by Facebook that explores the specific housing problems facing Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood, North Fair Oaks and the city of East Palo Alto.

That study, called "Investment and Disinvestment as Neighbors," includes a number of recommendations, one of which is for "cities and businesses such as Facebook" to "invest in intermediaries familiar with ADU construction and outreach, user-friendly interfaces and innovative ADU financing mechanisms."

"The Housing Innovation Fund is inclusive by design to bring in community member voices," said Evelyn Stivers, executive director of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, in the statement. "It is thorough in its outreach into our communities to find good organizations with innovative ideas. The grants all work together, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact on our county."

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Kate Bradshaw writes for The Almanac, a sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Facebook announces $1.5M in grants for accessory units

Funds to be used for building housing, improving construction process

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, May 20, 2021, 1:48 pm
Updated: Tue, May 25, 2021, 9:24 am

Facebook announced Thursday that it planned to use $1.5 million from its Innovation Fund to provide grants to five organizations working to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs), or secondary homes.

The Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, in partnership with Facebook and the city of Menlo Park, announced the five grantees set to use the Facebook funds toward building housing, improving the efficiency of the construction process and ultimately driving down the cost of housing production, according to a Facebook press statement.

"We're committed to listening to our neighbors so we collectively address the housing crisis in our local community through our 'three Ps' approach producing, protecting and preserving housing," said Facebook Director of Policy Juan Salazar in the statement.

The grants will be made to East Palo Alto Community Alliance and Neighborhood Development Organization, Preserving Affordable Housing Assets Longterm Inc. and Youth United for Community Action to build two secondary homes as part of a co-op community land trust with a leadership development program; to United Hope Builders, to build a factory in East Palo Alto to manufacture prefabricated homes and employ local residents; to City Systems, to create a project showcasing secondary home constructions in garages; to Soup, to promote a new financing model with low upfront costs for financing secondary homes; and to Symbium, to help homeowners and nonprofits plan ADUs and aid cities in streamlining the approval processes for the secondary homes, sometimes referred to as in-law units or granny cottages.

"United Hope Builders is tackling the housing crisis in the Bay Area head on, by building a steel modular housing factory in East Palo Alto — creating 100 great jobs — and working with counties, cities, faith-based and other non-traditional land owners to develop affordable housing on their land," said Pastor Paul Bains, chair of United Hope Builders.

According to the statement, the grant program is guided by the findings of a University of California at Berkeley study funded by Facebook that explores the specific housing problems facing Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood, North Fair Oaks and the city of East Palo Alto.

That study, called "Investment and Disinvestment as Neighbors," includes a number of recommendations, one of which is for "cities and businesses such as Facebook" to "invest in intermediaries familiar with ADU construction and outreach, user-friendly interfaces and innovative ADU financing mechanisms."

"The Housing Innovation Fund is inclusive by design to bring in community member voices," said Evelyn Stivers, executive director of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, in the statement. "It is thorough in its outreach into our communities to find good organizations with innovative ideas. The grants all work together, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact on our county."

Kate Bradshaw writes for The Almanac, a sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

Comments

Hungry Resident
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 20, 2021 at 4:14 pm
Hungry Resident, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 4:14 pm

This factory is slated to be built on the old Romanic site where the 2020 Bay Road project was to be going, which was last proposed to be a five eight-story building office park. This factory should be going through the full planning process like any other (permitting, approval process, environmental impact review or any other regulations necessary to open an industrial facility in EPA). Instead, it is being approved through a temporary use permit, which does not have EIR or any of the other review processes. Would love to know who approved this. Shady to build this factory in EPA without a formal review and not bring it to the table for community feedback. There is ABSOLUTELY-NO-WAY that Palo Alto or Menlo Park would let a factory be built in the heart of their community without public comment or environmental review. This kind of shenanigans only happens to low-income communities with little political power to stop it. Not to mention this is an Idaho-based company bringing this factory in. You've done enough, Facebook.


RCS 650
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 20, 2021 at 9:32 pm
RCS 650, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 9:32 pm

The previous post is factually incorrect, starting with the name of the company that once occupied the site. The name of the company was Romic. The innovative, well thought out development plan of United Hope Builders is a step in the right direction, providing a roof for the most marginalized at a time when the need has never been more acute. Who cares that the manufacturer is out of Idaho any more than Ikea being controlled by Swedish interests? And the bottom line difference it makes to the community is what?


Hungry Resident
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 21, 2021 at 8:23 am
Hungry Resident, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 21, 2021 at 8:23 am

OK, spelling error, sorry. Tell me what else is factually incorrect about my statement. I actually don't want to spread misinformation, so please tell me about how this project is getting a proper EIR, etc.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2021 at 12:31 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 21, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Airbnb homes and ADUs are the most likely outcome, from my experience. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but we shall have to wait and see as the jury is still out on this.

Sorry for my skepticism.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.