Screenshot via Google Maps
Back in 2018, Apple purchased a large plot of land in the South Bay to turn it into its North San Jose campus. While there are no public plans on the building’s completion yet, Mercury News reports that the company has begun construction work.
One thing, though: 55 acres of that property are inhabited by at least 30 homeless people, who have possibly relocated from the nearby Mineta San Jose International Airport, since it was cleared in late June.
KPIX 5 notes that the site is among the “most prominent homeless encampments” in the Bay Area’s South Bay.
Instead of forcing occupants out, like most companies would, Apple proactively found dozens of residents a new place to stay, working with nonprofit HomeFirst to provide lodging for them in a motel for nine months.
The outreach—which also includes counseling and 12 months of case-management services for campers to assist them with addiction, mental health, long-term housing, and more—will apparently cost Apple millions of dollars, according to HomeFirst CEO Andrea Urton.
It’s part of a US$2.5 billion pledge that Apple made in 2019 to address California’s housing problem. It also vowed then to dedicate some of its land to building affordable living quarters, though this part of the promise hasn’t materialized.
Nevertheless, Urton said that what Apple is doing should set the bar for how other companies could handle the homelessness crisis. It is estimated that 30,000 people in the Bay Area do not have a roof over their heads.
Although some campers were hesitant to take up Apple’s offer, 53-year-old Frank Pacheco expressed his thanks and was delighted to accept it. Pacheco is a former mechanic who is recovering from a work-related head injury, and had been based in an RV on the site for two years.
“It’s a wonderful thing that Apple’s doing for us,” said Pacheco. “They don’t have to do anything for us. They could just kick us off the property. They could just feed us to the wolves.”
The man said he will use his Apple-sponsored motel stay to nurse his injury and hopefully find a job.
Echoing the sentiment, Urton praised Apple for taking the effort to search for suitable lodgings and reform resources for the campers. “I think the level of Apple’s involvement is amazing, to be quite frank,” she noted. “They could just kick these people off, throw away their belongings and displace them. That’s not what they chose to do.”
With the tech giant taking these first steps, Urton hopes companies, and even governments, would follow suit. And if they don’t have the resources to do it, they could even partner with others to help out—just like what Apple has done with HomeFirst, which specializes in providing shelter and housing for the homeless.
“If every company took responsibility for what’s happening with homelessness in their neighborhood, I think we’d nail it,” said Urton.