FINANCE

Amazon donates $8 million to fight homelessness in two cities

BY Marianne Wilson

Amazon has made a major donation to non-profits that provide housing for people who are homelessness.

The tech giant announced an initial total $8 million donation to Plymouth Housing and the Arlington Community Foundation, which are based in the company’s two headquarters regions. Of the total, $5 million will go to Plymouth Housing, in Seattle,  and $3 million to the Arlington Community  Foundation, in Arlington, Va.

In addition, Amazon said it will match employee donations through September 30, 2019 to select charities that address housing and homelessness in both regions.

“Homelessness and affordable housing are real concerns in Seattle and the Washington, DC region – as neighbors in both, we made these donations to Plymouth Housing and the Arlington Community Foundation because of their work and progress on housing stability and helping families improve their quality of life,” said Jay Carney, senior VP, global corporate affairs at Amazon. “We believe this gift can help offer additional housing and support services for our neighbors in need. In addition, together with our employees, we will donate to nonprofits located in Washington State, Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia, whose missions support affordable housing and people experiencing homelessness.”

Amazon came under criticism last year for opposing a local tax on big businesses to help combat homelessness in its Seattle hometown, where the cost of living has surged amid the ongoing tech boom. (The Seattle City Council  voted to repeal the tax hike less than a month after  unanimously passing it.)

In announcing the new $8 million donation, Amazon noted that, since 2016,  it has made in-kind and cash donations to its Seattle nonprofit partners Mary’s Place and FareStart. These include a first-of-its-kind family shelter within an Amazon building for Mary’s Place and classroom and restaurant space for FareStart’s job training program for people experiencing homelessness or living in poverty. The collective value of the donations, including annual rent, is more than $130 million, with Mary’s Place alone receiving $100 million in in-kind and cash donations over the next 10 years, the company said.

Plymouth Housing provides permanent housing to single men and women experiencing chronic homelessness. The organization pairs permanent homes with services to address physical disabilities, mental health, or chemical dependency. Plymouth serves over 1,000 formerly homeless Seattle residents each year in 14 local apartment buildings.

The Arlington Community Foundation  is an endowment with focus areas that include homelessness prevention, education, arts, youth and families in need.

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