An Affordable Pox On All Your Tech Industry Charitable Housing

view of Manitouwadge Cenotaph
Township of Manitouwadge photo by Beems3 is licensed under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 or later
Cenotaph in Manitouwadge, Ontario, a classic resource company town.

The headline seems a little churlish, doesn’t it? Sneering at charitable contributions? We thought so. And yet it forms the core of a similar headline from the electronic publication: The Hill.

To be more specific, that wrong-headed headline of a largely wrong-headed article reads as follows: “Tech Industry’s Massive Pledge To Affordable Housing Distracts From The Real Problem”

It seems that according the Hill article, there is a monolithic “Real Problem” that if suitably recognized and acted on will provide a solution to affordable housing crises. How silly of the tech industry to fritter away literally billions of dollars to distract us from the road to affordable housing salvation!

We read on eagerly, anxious to discover just exactly what this “Real Problem” is, only to discover the article is its own worst enemy, not offering up a single “Real Problem” but several of them.

So back to the headline. If there are several parts to the problem and accordingly several paths to the solution of affordable housing crises, why can’t billions of dollars of charitable donations be one of several parts of a solution?

Let’s take that thought a little further – out of ‘pledge’ land and the entire charitable ball park to consider that, however the ‘pledges’ are spun, they may be little more than hard-headed business decisions by the mega-corporations involved.

These companies may be pioneering a reconceptualization of the ‘company town.’ It’s a purely business practice that could be a long term benefit to affordable housing everywhere.

‘Company towns’ most often apply to communities built near the site of resource extraction projects in remote places. Practicality requires that at least most, if not all, company employees need to be housed, fed, and have all their living needs serviced within working distance of the plant. Company towns are built in their entirety to provide housing and ancillary services because there is no other option.

Similarly, a large high tech company wishing to mine intellectual resources — the minds of its hoped-for employees — in a district like Silicon Valley. These days, in locations like this, living accommodation for employees is in practical terms as remote as if the company operated in tundra north of the arctic circle.

If we reimagine ‘company towns’ as overlapping in a single community, every business might provide accommodation for its employees, and contribute to the necessary ancillary workers who support employee lifestyles. That might be a significant part of a solution for a community affordable housing crisis, not just a tedious distraction!

At any rate, here’s the link to the article itself in The Hill: Tech Industry’s Massive Pledge To Affordable Housing Distracts From The Real Problem

As to the wrong-headed rest of the article . . . well, we’ll leave that to another time.