Amazon to spend $2 billion on affordable housing in three regions

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Amazon on Wednesday pledged to spend more than $2 billion on affordable housing efforts in three regions where big chunks of its workforce live.

The e-commerce colossus said it will use the money to create and preserve more than 20,000 affordable homes in and around its home base of Seattle and its hubs in Arlington, Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee.

Amazon plans to distribute the funds in the form of low-cost loans, lines of credit and grants to finance housing for low- and moderate-income families. The company expects to have at least 5,000 employees in each of the three areas in the coming years.

The so-called Housing Equity Fund will “help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities,” billionaire Amazon chief Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

The targeted cities are important hubs for Amazon. The company’s corporate headquarters is in Seattle, and it’s building a second HQ in Arlington, a Washington, DC suburb, along with a new operations center in Nashville.

The tech giant had initially planned to build a headquarters in the NYC borough of Queens, but shut the project down amid opposition from local politicians like US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and NYC council member Jimmy Van Brammer.

Amazon and other tech giants have been blamed in recent years for pushing up housing prices in cities where they set up shop. Amazon in particular helped kill a local tax in Seattle that aimed to raise money to fight the city’s homelessness crisis.

The company says it is committed to affordable housing and will gear its new financing efforts toward families earning between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income in each of the three regions. That equates to less than $95,250 for a family of four in the Seattle area and less than $79,600 in the DC metro area.

One of Amazon’s first affordable housing deals gave about $382 million in loan and grant money to the Washington Housing Conservancy, a nonprofit that used the financing to buy an Arlington housing complex where rents will be lowered, according to the company.

Another roughly $185 million in loan and grant funds are going to the King County Housing Authority to preserve affordability for 1,000 Seattle-area apartments, Amazon said.

With Post wires

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