Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is putting up $6.1 million to turn a hotel into transitional housing for San Francisco’s homeless population

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Justin Sullivan/Getty
  • SalesforceCEO Marc Benioff is putting $US6.1 million into a project to transform a closed-down San Francisco hotel into transitional housing for the homeless, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
  • The housing-renovation project is a partnership between Benioff, San Francisco mayor London Breed, and the local homeless advocacy group Tenderloin Housing Clinic.
  • Benioff has been an outspoken proponent of a tax on tech companies, called Proposition C, that would be used to benefit San Francisco’s homeless population. The measure passed during midterm-election voting in November.

Now that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has successfully helped the passage of a tax on major companies to benefit San Francisco’s homeless population, the tech executive has turned his attention to building transitional housing for the homeless with a multi-million-dollar donation.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Benioff is contributing $US6.1 million to a project that would turn a rundown hotel – whose rich, sordid history led to its closure years ago – into housing for the homeless that’s set to open in February.

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Benioff confirmed the news in a seriesof tweets Thursday morning and said an official announcement on the project would be coming later in the day.

“Every homeless person needs a home,” Benioff said on Twitter.

‘When you give a person a home, everything gets better’

The project to refurbish the Bristol Hotel is a partnership between Benioff, San Francisco mayor London Breed, and a local homeless advocacy organisation. The nonprofit Tenderloin Housing Clinic will run the housing complex – with its executive director as the acting landlord – once it opens, according to the Chronicle.

The refurbished Bristol Hotel will function as a transitional living facility, which is designed to help its tenants become financially independent moving forward. The complex will feature 58 rooms at a low rent – ranging from $US500 to $US650 a month depending on size – that’s subsidized with help from Benioff’s donation, according to a statement from the city of San Francisco.

With only so many rooms available, residents will be chosen, although the Chronicle doesn’t say exactly how that selection process will proceed. Prospective tenants are required to have spent at least three years inside another San Francisco supportive housing complex and to have made progress toward maintaining life after homelessness.

“When you give a person a home, everything gets better,” Benioff told the Chronicle. “It’s the fundamental catalyst to improving a person’s livelihood.”

Bristol hotel, October 2017
The closed Bristol Hotel. Google Maps

An outspoken advocate

Benioff has been an outspoken advocate for San Francisco’s homeless population, which stood at around 7,500 people in 2017, according to the city’s latest official count. Benioff and his wife, as well as Salesforce itself, have donated millions of dollars since 2016 toward nonprofits that benefit San Francisco’s homeless.

But Benioff’s most recent efforts to advocate for the homeless have centered around a tax measure called Proposition C, which passed in early November when it appeared on the San Francisco ballot during the midterm elections.

Benioff’s staunch support of the tax measure has led him to engage in public feuds on Twitter with other tech executives, like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Zynga cofounder Mark Pincus.

Prop C, although tied up in legal challenges that may delay when it takes effect, would tax major companies that gross more than $US50 million each year. This would include Benioff’s Salesforce, the largest private employer in the city, which would stand to pay between $US10 million and $US11 million a year, per the Benioff’s estimates.