Housing Market

Amazon commits additional $1.4B to affordable housing fund

The funds will be distributed across three metro areas where the company maintains a corporate presence

Online retail giant Amazon announced this week that it is committing an additional $1.4 billion to its Housing Equity Fund that will go toward the creation and preservation of roughly 14,000 affordable housing units across three major metropolitan areas in which it maintains a corporate presence.

The funds — to be invested in the metro areas of Seattle, Nashville and Arlington, Virginia — will bring the total investment fund to $3.6 billion and 35,000 housing units since its inception in 2021, the company said in an announcement.

“We created the Amazon Housing Equity Fund to preserve and create homes that will remain affordable for the next century, ensuring families can stay in their communities for generations to come,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said in a statement. “We hope that our additional commitment — coupled with other public and private resources — will help make a meaningful difference for thousands more people and enable these regions to thrive.”

Launched in January 2021, the fund initially sought to create and preserve 20,000 affordable housing units in these three metros through an initial investment of $2 billion. This week, Amazon claimed it had surpassed that goal by reportedly providing $2.2 billion across 21,000 affordable units.

In measuring the local impact on the Puget Sound region of western Washington, The Seattle Times reported that while any investment in additional housing is beneficial, Amazon has also been slammed for contributing to the challenges the area is facing due to “high corporate salaries [contributing] to a skyrocketing cost of living.”

In a news conference this week, Jassy said that the company knows that housing “is a really big challenge for a lot of people, especially in and around expensive metro areas. We feel strongly we can help give back to our communities by helping preserve and create thousands of affordable homes.”

The funding is targeted. Amazon said it primarily aims to provide the money via a mix of loans and grants to “households that earn 30% to 80% of the area median income.” The company said this population often includes “first responders, teachers, health care workers, and others who may not typically qualify for subsidies but whose wages haven’t kept pace with escalating rents.”

In King County, where Seattle sits, that usually translates to income levels of $28,800 to $70,650 for an individual, or $41,100 to $100,900 for a family of four, based on 2023 data from the King County Housing Authority that was cited by the Seattle Times.

The announcement also added some new details to a previously announced partnership with the National Housing Trust, saying that the Seattle effort on that initiative will start with a pilot project of 83 homes that could eventually grow to 800.

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