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Apple pledges US$2.5b for affordable California housing

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With the pledge Monday, the Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker follows Facebook Inc and Google, which have each committed US$1 billion to combat skyrocketing housing costs in the Bay Area.

[NEW YORK] Apple Inc will contribute US$2.5 billion toward easing the housing crisis in California, joining other technology companies in helping alleviate a problem they are often blamed for exacerbating.

With the pledge Monday, the Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker follows Facebook Inc and Google, which have each committed US$1 billion to combat skyrocketing housing costs in the Bay Area. In January, Microsoft Corp pledged US$500 million toward affordable housing in Seattle.

The growth of technology companies like Apple has contributed to an increasingly imbalanced housing environment. Deep-pocketed tech firms employ tens of thousands of high-earners who have bought or rented homes, leaving fewer options for poor and middle-income residents who are being pushed further and further out of the area. New housing hasn't been built fast enough to keep up with demand.

"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," Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in a statement. "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's commitment includes US$1 billion toward an affordable housing investment fund to finance construction of new housing and US$1 billion to help first-time home buyers with financing and down payments.

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