From the Seattle Times:
Amazon will direct $2 billion in loans and grants to secure affordable housing near three American cities where the company employs thousands of workers, the tech giant announced Wednesday.
In a first step in the Puget Sound region, Amazon is promising $185.5 million, mostly in loans, to the King County Housing Authority to help buy affordable apartments in the region and keep the rents low. The Housing Authority will use an initial portion of that money to help fund its recent purchase of three Bellevue apartment buildings.
Amazon will also direct about $382 million to a nonprofit in Arlington, Virginia, and so-far unspecified amount to organizations in Nashville, Tennessee. Amazon said it selected the three areas where the company expects to have at least 5,000 employees.
In total across the three regions, the company projected the $2 billion would help preserve or create 20,000 affordable housing units over the next five years. The funding will “help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.
The King County Housing Authority plans to pair bond funding with a portion of the $161.5 million in loans and $24 million in grants from Amazon to pay for the three Bellevue buildings with a total of 470 apartments.
As the region gentrifies, affordable apartment buildings are often renovated and their rents are increased, worsening economic and racial segregation, said Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority.
Without preserving some of those more affordable buildings, “we’re dripping water into a bucket with a big hole in the bottom,” Norman said. “This is a long strategy ensuring … that this community doesn’t get hollowed out.”