Amazon has pledged to invest billions of dollars to build affordable housing near some of its key offices in the United States.
The e-commerce behemoth announced today that it has established the Housing Equity Fund — a $2 billion commitment to erect more than 20,000 homes in Washington’s Puget Sound region; Arlington, Va.; and Nashville — three communities where the company either has or expects to have at least 5,000 employees each in the coming years.
According to Amazon, the fund will be used to help preserve existing housing as well as create inclusive housing developments through below-market loans and grants to housing partners, traditional and non-traditional public agencies, plus minority-led organizations.
“Amazon has a long-standing commitment to helping people in need, including the Mary’s Place family shelter we built inside our Puget Sound headquarters. The shelter now supports over 200 women and children experiencing homelessness every night,” founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement, adding that the investment will “also help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities.”
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The Seattle-based retailer said the first investments include $381.9 million in low-cost loans to the Washington Housing Conservancy to preserve and build up to 1,300 homes on the Crystal House property in Arlington. It will also provide $185.5 million in loans to King County Housing Authority to retain affordability for up to 1,000 homes in the state of Washington, with additional investments expected to come in all three regions.
With the fund, low- to moderate-income families might be able to afford housing in communities with easier access to neighborhood services, amenities and jobs. Amazon and other tech giants have faced criticism for inflating housing costs in certain parts of the country like the San Francisco Bay Area due to an inpouring of new workers over the past several years. Companies such as Google parent Alphabet and Facebook have also committed to funding affordable-housing projects.
Amazon is also two years in on the construction of its second headquarters in Arlington, Va. Called HQ2, the location is an expansion of its main base in Seattle.