The new Equity Housing Giant housing fund will invest in the areas of Seattle, Nashville and Arlington, Virginia, where the company will eventually employ at least 5,000 people each.
This new $2 billion housing development fund will create or retain 20,000 affordable homes in our three headquarters areas – Arlington, Puget Sound and Nashville – according to Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, in a news release. It will also help local families to achieve long-term stability while building strong and inclusive communities.
The initial investment of more than $567 million goes to 1,300 affordable housing units near HQ2, Amazon’s new headquarters in Virginia, and 1,000 units near its headquarters in Seattle, Washington.
In Arlington, Amazon said it has invested $381.9 million in low-interest loans and Washington Housing Conservation grants to build 1,300 affordable housing units on the Crystal House site near the headquarters. And in Washington, the $185.5 million investment went from Amazon to the King County Housing Authority to preserve up to 1,000 affordable homes in Bellevue.
Amazons have been criticised in the past for saving the neighbourhoods where they have opened large companies and for increasing housing costs.
A number of cities fought hard to become the new headquarters – Arlington, Virginia, and Long Island City, Queens, New York, eventually won the bid to share the seat in 2018.
But the reaction of community leaders and local officials in Queens eventually forced Amazon to leave New York. At the time, local officials said Amazon had little interest in talking about things like traffic jams and rising real estate prices that could bring thousands of well-paid high-tech workers into Queens.
Amazon says its new approach is aimed at helping low and middle-income families in the regions where it currently operates.
In each of the three regions, the corporation focuses on housing for households with an income between 30 and 80 percent of the region’s median income.
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In addition to the $2 billion investment, the fund also includes $125 million in grants to minority-led organizations and government agencies to address the lack of affordable housing that disproportionately affects people of color, Amazon said.
The fund will also provide grants to government partners such as public transport companies and school districts to assist families working in these areas.
In wealthy American cities, many affordable housing options for teachers, health workers, public transit workers and others of modest means are increasingly being turned into luxury apartments, displacing and restricting the housing options for working families, said Sarah Rosen Wartell, president of the Urbanisation Institute, in a statement.
Investments such as those announced by Amazon that contribute to the preservation of these existing buildings and the maintenance of moderate rents are essential for local efforts that promote economic integration and support the stability and economic mobility of middle and low-income families.
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