SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Google Inc, which has been criticized for exacerbating income inequality in San Francisco, on Thursday said it will donate $2 million to help the city’s large homeless population.
The Internet search company, which is making the grant commitments through its philanthropic arm Google.org, said it would support three local homeless groups: HandUp, Hamilton Family Center and Larkin Street Youth Services.
The most recent 2013 tally of San Francisco’s homeless population found that 6,436 adults were living on the streets and in shelters. The actual number is thought to be higher, despite the city’s $165 million budget to make a dent in the homeless population through supportive housing and other efforts.
Hamilton Family Center will receive $1 million to reduce the waiting list for homeless families at shelters in San Francisco. Larkin Street said it will use its $500,000 grant for its college and career preparation programs.
Google said it has reserved the remaining $500,000 for San Francisco-based HandUp, an application for direct giving to homeless people. HandUp has received backing from such high-profile technology investors as Salesforce Chief Executive Marc Benioff and ‘Lean Startup’ founder Eric Ries, among others. Through the month of December, HandUp said Google will match new recurring donations made to its San Francisco fund.
Technology companies have come under fire in recent years for adding to the problem of growing income inequality, with buses that ferry workers the 40 miles from San Francisco to its offices in Mountain View, Calif., becoming symbols of gentrification.
San Francisco has the second highest gap between rich and poor in the United States, second only to Atlanta, Georgia, according to a Brookings Institution report. And evictions in the city are at their highest levels since 2001-2, according to the latest report from the San Francisco Rent Board.
Google said it has given $100 million to Bay Area nonprofit organizations since 2010.
Google.org’s portfolio manager for the Bay Area, Justin Steele, said the storm that has been raging in San Francisco Thursday serves as a reminder of the important role of local non-profits to help vulnerable populations.