MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS SF) – Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced Tuesday that the tech giant would invest $1 billion over the next several years to help build housing in the Bay Area, amid the region’s ongoing housing crisis.

“Across the region, one issue stands out as particularly urgent and complex: housing. The lack of new supply, combined with the rising cost of living, has resulted in a severe shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low income residents,” Pichai said in a company blog post.

The company said it would repurpose $750 million of its land holdings currently zoned for commercial space to housing, which it claims would lead to the development of at least 15,000 new homes.

Meanwhile, $250 million would go towards an investment fund for developers to help build 5,000 affordable housing units. Another $50 million would go towards grants for nonprofits focused on homelessness and displacement.

“Our goal is to get housing construction started immediately, and for homes to be available in the next few years,” Pichai said.

Google said it has already worked with the city of Mountain View to change zoning near its headquarters to free up land for housing, and is in “productive conversations” with nearby Sunnyvale and San Jose, where it plans to expand.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo applauded the announcement.

“For several months, we have encouraged Google to make a bold commitment to address our region’s affordable housing challenge,” Liccardo said. “We look forward to working with Google to ensure today’s announcement manifests into housing that will benefit thousands of San José residents struggling under the burden of high rents.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom also supported the company’s move, saying in a statement, “I hope today’s announcement inspires other companies — big and small — to make similar direct investments in housing affordability throughout the state.”

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