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Billionaire Marc Benioff donates $30 million to research homelessness

(CNN Business) UC San Francisco launched a new research initiative aimed at discovering the root causes of homelessness — and solutions to end it — thanks to a $30 million gift from Salesforce (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne.

The school announced the creation of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative on Wednesday.

"The world needs a North Star for truth on homelessness," Benioff said in a statement. "The UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative will be that North Star, providing the latest research, data and evidence-based solutions to ensure we're investing in programs that will help solve the homelessness crisis."

Benioff, who was born and raised in San Francisco and is now CEO of the largest employer of the city, has been active on the issue in the past.

Last year, he pushed to promote Proposition C, which would tax large companies based in the city and use the money raised to address homelessness. The local ballot measure was passed by voters and is waiting to be validated in court.

"Homelessness isn't just a Bay Area issue — it touches every community in California. Our entire state and nation have much to gain from this work," California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

"Marc and Lynne have been leaders in this space, and this generous investment will help fuel the search for solutions and further develop best practices to help those who are homeless improve their lives."

Throughout America, a total of 552,830 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2018, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

On any given day that same year in California, more than 129,000 people were experiencing homelessness, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"Rising housing costs and income inequality are leading to more people, including families and older adults, entering homelessness for the first time," UCSF said in a statement.

Margot Kushel, professor of medicine at UCSF and director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, will lead the initiative.

"There is no medicine as powerful as housing. But the problem is complex," Kushel said in a statement. "We know a lot about how to end homelessness, but that knowledge doesn't always reach policymakers and is often not properly targeted. We have far more to learn about designing the most effective ways to prevent and end homelessness."

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