Facebook is taking a bold step to address the deficiency in housing in the United States. Among other things, the silicon giants have announced a $1 billion commitment to counter the high cost of housing which the emergence of tech industries have contributed immensely to. A statement issued by the cofounder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg says:
“Today Facebook is committing $1 billion to help address the affordable housing crisis in California and other communities where we work. While the technology industry has created many jobs and opportunities, it has also made certain places less affordable to live — and we want to help solve this.
“As part of today’s commitment, we’re partnering with California Governor Gavin Newsom and the State of California to create up to 20,000 new housing units to help teachers, nurses, first responders and other workers live closer to the communities that need them.
“We’ve been investing in our local communities for some time now and we know money alone is not the answer. That’s why we’re working with people from the community, policy makers, and other companies to address the problem together. It’s an issue that’s really important and I hope we can help find solutions that can work in more cities.”
This step taken by Facebook is setting a precedent that other companies can learn from, especially in cities like Lagos Nigeria.
Lack of affordable housing is a problem that Lagos State resonates with. The emergence of companies has determined the inflow of workers from all walks of life, creating a vacuum in already existing loopholes.
Evidently, the State Government has been but helpless in bridging the gap in the housing sector and the efforts of the private sector isn’t enough. The situation over the years has resulted in a “cash and carry” system in the housing sector, where the poor and low wage workers are getting pushed out of many residential areas because due to the high cost.
And there is little hope because companies and industries keeping finding markets in Lagos without alternative housing provision for their workers. So the demand keep going higher, and house owners have learned to renovate to suit the current demand at a cost that most people who live in the areas cannot afford.
Many of them are firefighters, policemen, and paramedics etc. those who provide community services and have to go many miles to get to work on the daily, because the cost of housing has pushed them far away from the communities of their service.
The current stance of the State Government on affordable housing beams a dim hope, and therefore calls for external support. The Facebook’s gesture becomes a practical lesson: Big corporations making money in Lagos have always depended on already existing houses for the accommodation of their workers, and that has blown the housing crisis into bigger proportions.
For instance, Dangote’s refinery in Ibeju Lekki, at completion, is expected to employ hundreds of workers. And apart from what is readily available, there is no other provision to accommodate the inflow of people that will emanate from the new industry.
So more people will get pushed away, and will have to spend their earnings on transportation to work.
It’s a sad reality that the big corporations making money in Lagos can help with by considering housing as part of their Corporate Social Responsibilities.
If the example of Facebook is followed in Lagos, it will result in more productivity and efficiency through the minimization of the time workers spend in traffic.