SEATTLE: Amazon announced $ 2 billion in loans and grants to secure affordable homes in the three US cities where it has major operations, including the suburb of Seattle where the online retail giant employs at least 5,000 workers.
Amazon said it will award $ 185.5 million to the King County Housing Authority to help purchase affordable apartments in the area and keep rents low, The Seattle Times reported Wednesday.
The agency is expected to combine bond financing with $ 161.5 million in loans and $ 24 million in grants from Amazon to finance its recent purchase of three apartment buildings, including 470 units in Bellevue, about 10 miles away ((16) Kilometers) west of Seattle.
Other tech companies have recently invested large sums to promote affordable housing, after years of complaints that they had exacerbated urban inequality by rising house prices.
Two years ago, Microsoft launched its own initiative and is spending $ 750 million to help provide loans at or below market rate to developers looking to build affordable housing in the Seattle area.
In Amazon’s latest effort, the money has also gone to Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee, where it has centers. Company officials forecast that $ 2 billion will maintain or create 20,000 affordable housing units over the next five years.
Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, said the funding “will help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong and inclusive communities.”
While Amazon and Bezos have donated large sums for affordable housing and homeless services, including opening a homeless shelter on their Seattle campus, the company has also come under fire for its success in lobbying. To Seattle City Council to abolish a major business tax that would have. They funded homeless services in 2018.
Affordable housing is often renovated and rents are rising, exacerbating economic and ethnic segregation, said Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority.”This is a long strategy ensuring … that this community doesn’t get hollowed out,” he said.
Norman added that the money is estimated to cover about 45% of the cost of the three apartment buildings.