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Marc Benioff calls homelessness “a solvable problem” at Salesforce Tower’s grand opening

SAN FRANCISCO — Salesforce Chief Executive Marc Benioff, a billionaire who started his cloud-based business-software company in a San Francisco apartment nearly 20 years ago, used Monday’s grand opening of the new 1,070-foot-tall Salesforce Tower as a clarion call for the city to recommit itself to ending family homelessness on San Francisco’s streets.
Speaking at the base of what is now the tallest building in San Francisco, Benioff said he hoped the 62-story tower that bears his company’s name would be “a symbol of hope” for everyone in the city, but especially those in need of a permanent home.
To that end, Benioff pledged a donation of $3 million to Heading Home Initiative, a program that Benioff and his wife, Lynn, helped created along with assistance from the late-San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, the City and County of San Francisco, the San Francisco Unified School District and the Hamilton Families private philanthropy. Of the $3 million donation, $1.5 million will come from Salesforce’s own philanthropic arm,, with the Benioffs contributing a matching donation.

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Benioff said the new donations come as Heading Home has just completed its initial goal of raising $30 million, which it has used to help place 235 families into affordable homes via rent subsides. Heading Home has set a goal of putting 800 homeless families into their own homes by 2020.
“Today is a milestone. It is not a finish line,” Benioff said at the Salesforce Tower grand opening ceremony. “There are still thousands of people who are homeless in our city. We all know that. We see them everyday.” Benioff then noted that those in attendance could see some of San Francisco’s homeless “just a few blocks from here, some in this very block.”
Benioff wasn’t alone at the event. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown served as de facto host, and other speakers included San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell, San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the area in which the Salesforce Tower is located, and architect Fred Clarke.
Benioff is no stranger to philanthropic efforts in the Bay Area. He and his wife have made other donations in recent years, including $200 million to the hospitals that now bear the name UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.
While Benioff doesn’t expect his or others’ charity work to place homeless families inside of San Francisco’s most-expensive homes, the median price of a home in the city illustrates just how hard it can be for anyone to afford a home within San Francisco’s environs. In April, the median price of a home in San Francisco had risen 11.8 percent from a year ago, to $1.3 million, according to real estate data firm CoreLogic.
“This is a solvable problem,” Benioff said about the effort to end family homelessness. “It’s gonna take a lot of money, and a lot of time, and a lot of focus.”

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