Online retail titan Amazon announced Wednesday that it has committed more than $2 billion to support the creation of affordable housing.
Through its housing equity fund, Amazon plans to create at least 20,000 affordable homes in three of its headquarters’ regions – Puget Sound region in Washington State; Arlington, Va.; and Nashville, Tenn.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said that the fund aims to “help ensure moderate- to low-income families can afford housing in communities with easy access to neighborhood services, amenities, and jobs.”
Tech firms including Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google parent Alphabet, and Microsoft have been blamed for making cities less affordable for many due to the influx of employees over the past years. This problem has prompted the five tech giants to invest billions for the creation of affordable housing.
A huge chunk of Amazon’s investment will be through below-market capital in the form of loans, lines of credit, and grants to preserve, and create 20,000 homes affordable for moderate- to low-income families.
Initial investments include $381.9 million in below-market loans and grants to the Washington Housing Conservancy to preserve and build up to 1,300 affordable homes on the Crystal House property in Arlington, Va. Meanwhile, $185.5 million in below-market loans and grants will go to King County Housing Authority to preserve up to 1,000 affordable homes in the state of Washington.
The company said that it would also give an addition $125 million in cash grants to businesses, nonprofits, and minority-led organizations “to help them build a more inclusive solution to the affordable housing crisis, which disproportionately affects communities of color.” Additionally, the fund will provide grants to government partners not traditionally involved in affordable housing issues, such as transit agencies and school districts, to equip them with resources they need to create equitable and affordable housing initiatives.
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“In booming cities across the US, many apartment buildings affordable for teachers, healthcare providers, transit workers, and others with modest incomes are increasingly being redeveloped into luxury apartments, causing displacement and reducing housing options for working families,” said Sarah Rosen Wartell, president of the Urban Institute. “Investments like those announced today by Amazon that help preserve these existing buildings and maintain moderate rent levels are critical to local efforts that promote economic inclusion and support the stability and economic mobility of moderate- and low-income families.”