Amazon will spend $2 billion to try to fix affordable housing crises in three major employment hubs

Amazon has pledged to spend more than $2 billion over the following 5 years to construct tens of hundreds of reasonably priced housing items in three of the e-commerce big’s main employment hubs, underscoring the continued housing crises affecting components of the US the place giant, high-paying tech employers reside. Amazon’s pledge, introduced on Wednesday, follows comparable commitments from Apple, Facebook, and Google, all of which beforehand promised between $1 billion and $2.5 billion every to sort out comparable points plaguing the San Francisco Bay Space.

The components of the US Amazon plans to spend money on embrace Washington state’s Puget Sound area that encompasses Seattle, in addition to Arlington, Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee the place Amazon has opened fast-growing places of work. The corporate employs greater than 75,000 folks within the Puget Sound area alone because of its headquarters within the state, and it has round 1,000 workers every in Virginia and Tennessee with plans to broaden these workforces to greater than 5,000 workers in every sector. (These numbers don’t embrace Amazon’s a lot bigger warehouse, seasonal, and contract workforce that push its employment figures over 1 million folks as of October of last year.)

Amazon’s announcement could as soon as have included deliberate funding for New York Metropolis, after lawmakers reduce a take care of the corporate in early 2019 to deliver jobs to Lengthy Island Metropolis, Queens as a part of a extremely publicized competitors of types the corporate held to draw bids from municipalities across the nation. However fierce backlash from local residents and criticism from politicians, together with US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), led Amazon to scrap its controversial NYC plans and as a substitute concentrate on expansions of its Arlington and Nashville places of work.

“Amazon has a long-standing dedication to serving to folks in want, together with the Mary’s Place household shelter we constructed inside our Puget Sound headquarters. The shelter now helps over 200 ladies and kids experiencing homelessness each evening,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos mentioned in an announcement. “This new $2 billion Housing Fairness Fund will create or protect 20,000 reasonably priced houses in all three of our headquarters areas—Arlington, Puget Sound, and Nashville. It should additionally assist native households obtain long-term stability whereas constructing sturdy, inclusive communities.”

Amazon is spending its cash principally within the type of low-cost loans, beginning with almost $382 million to the Washington Housing Conservancy to “protect and create as much as 1,300 reasonably priced houses on the Crystal Home property in Arlington” and $185.5 million to King County Housing Authority for an extra 1,000 reasonably priced houses within the state of Washington. Amazon plans to announce extra investments in each areas, in addition to Nashville, within the coming months and years. The pledge additionally contains $125 million in money grants to small companies, nonprofits, and minority-led organizations, with the objective of serving to them “construct a extra inclusive resolution to the reasonably priced housing disaster.”

The unstated actuality of those giant housing pledges is that tech firms usually play a serious function in gentrification and displacement of native communities. That’s usually by way of a fancy interaction of things associated to disproportionately excessive wages and unmatched advantages that enable workers to stay in and round metropolis facilities regardless of generally working in additional rural or suburban settings, the place housing is cheaper and in much less demand. And as a part of its long-term technique to assist appeal to and retain expertise, an organization like Amazon has an incentive to make the city facilities and areas it turns into main employment hubs extra reasonably priced locations to stay.

One main objective is to keep away from driving away workers who can’t afford to stay someplace like Seattle or, within the case of firms like Fb and Google, in San Francisco or Silicon Valley. One other objective is to assist alleviate the strain from politicians and activists who usually criticize tech firms and their workforces for doing little to provide again to the communities inside which they construct their firms.

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