People of color likely will benefit from a pledge by Amazon to commit over $2 billion on affordable housing in three hub communities where the online tech giant has a large workforce.
Amazon announced plans to create and preserve over 20,000 affordable homes in Washington State’s Puget Sound region; Arlington, Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee, where it has a large number of employees.
The colossal retailer’s move follows similar efforts by huge tech companies to tackle housing crisis issues where they operate. For instance, Apple, Facebook and Google have committed between $1 billion to $2.5 billion to combat such issues in California, especially in the San Francisco Bay area.
Amazon has over 75,000 employees in the Seattle area, its main headquarters. The tech giant also has more than 1,000 workers each in Arlington, near Washington, D.C., where it is setting up a second headquarters, and in Nashville, where it is constructing an operations center. Plans call for at least 5,000 employees in each region in five years, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Amazon reports its Housing Equity Fund will help preserve existing housing and create inclusive housing developments via below-market loans and grants to housing partners, traditional and non-traditional public agencies and minority-led organizations. The funding will help moderate- to low-income families afford housing in resource-rich communities and provide access to neighborhood services, amenities and jobs.
Amazon’s first investment will be $381.9 million in below-market loans and grants to the Washington Housing Conservancy to preserve and create up to 1,300 affordable homes on the Crystal House property in Arlington and $185.5 million in below-market loans and grants to King County Housing Authority to preserve up to 1,000 affordable homes in the state of Washington.
The fund will provide another $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. The fund will further give grants to government partners not traditionally involved in affordable housing issues, including transit agencies and school districts to provide them with resources to advance and create equitable and affordable housing initiatives.
Amazon is focusing on households making between 30% and 80% of an area’s median income, the company stated. In the Washington, D.C. area that means households of four earning less than $79,600 a year would qualify, as well as those making less than $95,250 in the Seattle area.
The financial support “will also help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO.