Amazon says it will provide over $2 billion to build and preserve 20,000 affordable homes in three of its key employment areas — the Seattle region, Nashville, Tennessee and Arlington, Virginia. The Housing Equity Fund will offer below-market capital in low-cost loans, lines of credit and grants to support families making between 30 and 80 percent of the median income in each area. The fund will also give $125 million in grants to public agencies and minority-led organizations to boost inclusive affordable housing solutions.
Major tech companies can drive up the cost of living in areas surrounding their offices. Amazon is following the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google in focusing on such issues. All three have pledged at least $1 billion to tackle the affordable housing problem in California. Microsoft has also committed $750 million to ease the housing crisis in the Seattle area.
Amazon helped homeless services nonprofit Mary's Place open a homeless shelter at its Seattle campus last year after pledging $100 million to the project. However, the company fended off a Seattle tax proposal that would have supported affordable housing projects and the homeless population.
In 2018, Amazon announced plans to build new headquarters in Long Island City, New York. According to reports, the sites on which it was to build offices had been earmarked for residential development, which would have included around 1,500 affordable housing units. Amazon pulled out of the project amid a backlash from politicians and residents.