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01/06/2021

Amazon creates affordable housing fund

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Amazon is committing more than $2 billion to create over 20,000 affordable housing units in three different regions of the U.S.

The e-tail giant is establishing the Housing Equity Fund, which will provide over $2 billion to preserve and develop affordable housing in Washington State’s Puget Sound region; Arlington, Va.; and Nashville—three communities where the company has or expects to have at least 5,000 employees each in the coming years. 

Amazon, which has previously taken steps such as donating $8 million to homeless charities in Seattle and Arlington, will help preserve existing housing and help create inclusive housing developments through below-market loans and grants to housing partners, traditional and non-traditional public agencies, and minority-led organizations. The fund’s first investments include $381.9 million in below-market loans and grants to the Washington Housing Conservancy to preserve and create up to 1,300 affordable homes on the Crystal House apartment complex property in Arlington, and $185.5 million in below-market loans and grants to King County Housing Authority to preserve up to 1,000 affordable homes in the state of Washington, with additional investments to come in all three regions.

Specifically, Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund includes $2 billion in below-market capital in the form of loans, lines of credit, and grants to preserve and create 20,000 homes affordable for moderate- to low-income families in the Puget Sound region, Arlington, and Nashville. In each of these areas, Amazon is targeting households making between 30% to 80% of the area’s median income (AMI). 

In addition, the fund will provide $125 million in cash grants to businesses, nonprofits, and minority-led organizations to help them build a more inclusive solution to the affordable housing crisis, which disproportionately affects communities of color. The fund will also give grants to government partners not traditionally involved in affordable housing issues, such as transit agencies and school districts, to provide them with resources to advance and create equitable and affordable housing initiatives.

“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,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “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. It will also help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities.”