“This new $2 billion Housing Equity Fund will create or preserve 20,000 affordable homes in all three of our headquarters regions — Arlington, Puget Sound, and Nashville,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, in a statement. “It will also help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities.”
The first investment of more than $567 million will go toward 1,300 affordable apartment units near “HQ2,” Amazon’s new Virginia headquarters, and up to 1,000 apartments near its Seattle, Washington headquarters.
In Arlington, Amazon said it has invested $381.9 million in loans offered at below market rates, as well as grants to Washington Housing Conservancy that will go toward 1,300 affordable homes on the Crystal House property near HQ2. And in Washington, Amazon’s investment of $185.5 million went to the King County Housing Authority to preserve up to 1,000 affordable homes. in Bellevue.
Amazon says its new approach is designed to help low- and middle-income families in the areas it currently calls home.
In each of the three regions, the company is targeting homes for households making between 30% to 80% of the area’s median income.
In addition to its $2 billion investment, the fund also includes $125 million in grants to minority-led organizations and public agencies aimed at improving the shortage of affordable housing, which disproportionately affects people of color, Amazon said.
The fund will also give grants to government partners, like transit agencies and school districts, to help working families in those fields.
“In booming cities across the US, many apartment buildings affordable for teachers, healthcare providers, transit workers, and others with modest incomes are increasingly being redeveloped into luxury apartments, causing displacement and reducing housing options for working families,” said Sarah Rosen Wartell, president of the Urban Institute in a statement.
“Investments like those announced by Amazon that help preserve these existing buildings and maintain moderate rent levels are critical to local efforts that promote economic inclusion and support the stability and economic mobility of moderate- and low-income families.”