Homelessness is a massive problem in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the average rent is between $3,000 and $4,000 a month. A comfortable minimum salary to live in the neighboring city of San Jose is $87,000 a year, or $42 an hour, but precious few make that much. Food service in the area pays about $12 an hour, and healthcare support pays $19 an hour. So many people and families—even employed people—wind up homeless.
“Though homelessness seems intractable, I believe that it is a solvable issue,” wrote Chuck Robbins. “I also feel very strongly that we have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to do something about it.”
Chuck Robbins is the CEO of Cisco Systems, maker of internet gear like routers and data cables. He recently announced that the company would be donating $50 million over the next five years to help address the growing homeless crisis.
The donation will be given to Destination: Home, a public-private partnership focused on obtaining housing for those living on the streets. That housing is considered the first step in alleviating many problems, including healthcare, joblessness, and family reunification. The funding will also include a budget for data collection, to evaluate how resources should be used most efficiently.
Ray Bramson, chief impact officer for Destination: Home, hopes that Cisco’s noble move will inspire more Silicon Valley companies to offer their support. “No one agency, no one organization can really do it alone,” he said in the partnership’s response to Cisco’s donation, which may be the largest donation ever from a Silicon Valley company.
Employing over 73,000 people, Cisco Systems is a part of the worker boom that’s driving up the housing prices in the Bay Area. So Robbins’s words about responsibility mean exactly that. Hopefully, more tech giants will devote resources on this level to help solve the problems they cause.