With Facebook's huge recent growth, they are taking the opportunity to invest back in the community and to maintain Silicon Valley as one of the leading edge hotbeds of technology development.

Facebook, like other Silicon Valley tech firms, has a complicated relationship with low-income residents who fear job growth sparked by the tech industry is driving up housing prices and rents.

Now, the Menlo Park tech firm wants to friend some of its most vocal critics by committing $20 million over five years for affordable housing, job training and assistance for tenants at risk of losing their homes.

The unusual contribution is the largest it has committed to alleviate the housing crisis, a problem that has long pitted the tech elite against the region’s poorest residents. Facebook has teamed up with a coalition of East Palo Alto community groups and the governments of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park to form the Catalyst Housing Fund. The company calls the partnership “unprecedented.”

“The current path is unsustainable. We have a housing and transportation crisis in Silicon Valley (and) in the Bay Area,” said Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications and public policy. “We know that either we will come together and address this crisis or Silicon Valley will not be Silicon Valley in 20 or 30 years. It will move to other parts of the country and world.”

Silicon Valley tech firms, including Facebook, say they’re shouldering responsibility for the influence their job growth has on the skyrocketing rents and housing prices in the region. But advocacy groups have been calling on tech firms from Apple to Facebook and Google to do more.

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