Facebook’s Innovation Fund awards grants to address the housing crisis in Menlo Park via ADU construction

by Linda Hubbard on May 21, 2021

Facebook and the City of Menlo Park in partnership with the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation (PVF), announced the recipients of $1.5 million from Facebook’s Innovation Fund to make the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) more affordable and accessible and support the expansion of a local community land trust. ADUs are smaller housing units found on the same lot as stand-alone homes.

Each grantee will use the money from Facebook’s Innovation Fund to create new high-impact housing projects that enable efficient construction designed to drive down the cost of housing production.

The grantees will work collaboratively to expand their impact. The grantees selected are:

  • East Palo Alto Community Alliance and Neighborhood Development Organization (EPACANDO)/Preserving Affordable Housing Assets Longterm, Inc. (PAHALI)/Youth United for Community Action (YUCA), which will use funding to build two ADUs to be the first units of a decentralized co-op community land trust with a leadership development program.
  • United Hope Builders (UHB), which will use funding to build a factory in East Palo Alto to manufacture prefab homes. UHB will be a manufacturing partner and work with faith-based organizations and nonprofits, and employ a local workforce.
  • City Systems, which will use funding to create an open-source public goods project to showcase a new concept in garage ADU construction.
  • Soup, which will use funding to promote a new low up-front cost financing model.
  • Symbium, which will use funding to enable home owners and housing nonprofits to plan and simulate ADU construction, and provide an internal tool for cities to streamline the analysis, planning, and approval process for ADUs in their jurisdictions.

Created in 2017, the distribution of Facebook’s Innovation Fund is guided by the findings of a study by UC Berkeley Professor Karen Chapple, in collaboration with the Y-PLAN program (Youth – Play, Act, Now), and funded by Facebook. The study’s findings indicated that increasing opportunities for residents to build ADUs could serve as a key tool in addressing the housing crisis in Menlo Park.

Photo courtesy United Hope Builders

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