Independent Vermont senator and 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is not impressed by tech giant Apple’s efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing in California amid a growing crisis.
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In a statement on Monday evening, Sanders called out the Cupertino, California-based company out for trying to distract from a problem it helped create.
“Apple's announcement that it is entering the real estate lending business is an effort to distract from the fact that it has helped create California's housing crisis – all while raking in $800 million of taxpayer subsidies, and keeping a quarter trillion dollars of profit offshore, in order to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes,” Sanders said. “Today, more than 134,000 Californians are homeless and renters need to earn $34.69 per hour to afford the average two-bedroom apartment. We cannot rely on corporate tax evaders to solve California's housing crisis.”
Apple did not return FOX Business’ request for comment on Sanders’ statement.
The tech company announced plans earlier on Monday to commit $2.5 billion to combat the California housing crisis – money that will be put toward creating an affordable housing investment fund, a first-time buyer mortgage assistance fund, a Bay Area housing fund, in addition to other measures.
“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,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.
It’s not the first time Sanders has gone after large U.S. companies for their role in perpetuating the housing crisis. In June, the senator laid into e-commerce giant Amazon for using its “enormous wealth and power” to kill a head tax, aimed at building affordable housing in Seattle.
Silicon Valley has been blamed for exacerbating inequality, bringing in high-paying jobs and driving up home prices. Other companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and Google, have made financial commitments to help build affordable housing along the West Coast.
The number of homeless people in San Francisco has risen 17 percent since 2017, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Homelessness in Los Angeles increased 12 percent in the year that ended in June. California has more people living on the street than any other state.
Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a statewide rent control provision into law last month, limiting year over year increases to 5 percent, plus inflation, through 2029. The law is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, but will retroactively apply to rent increases on or after March 15 in order to prevent landlords from preemptively hiking prices.
Newsom cheered Apple's commitment on Monday, saying in a statement it is "proof that Apple is serious about solving this issue."