Some of the world's biggest companies are investing in affordable housing, hoping to stymie the growing crisis their growth has contributed to.
Amazon's newly launched Housing Equity Fund promises to build and preserve more than 20,000 housing units near the company's three U.S. hubs with a $2 billion investment. The program includes below-market grants and loans to "public agencies, housing partners and minority-led groups," according to Cailin Crowe.
Amazon expects the workforce at these three locations to reach around 5,000 employees in the next few years and calls the housing initiative an effort to "be part of the solution" to the housing affordability crisis facing many of their employees and other residents in surrounding communities. "Tech giants like Amazon have made a number of affordable housing investments in recent years, a problem many experts have said such companies helped create," writes Crowe. Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook have all made billion-dollar commitments ($2.5 billion in Apple's case) to investing in affordable housing.
Experts like Sarah Rosen Wartell, president of the Urban Institute, laud the companies' efforts to support affordable housing, noting that the move also signals to local elected leaders that "investment in affordable housing is a critical, necessary step for a region's balanced, healthy economy." King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles expressed appreciation for the pledges, but acknowledged there's a long way to go. "This investment is a relative drop in the bucket, but Amazon’s loans and grants will provide much needed capital for expanding our supply of affordable housing now, when our communities need it the most."
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