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Amazon To Invest $2B In Affordable Housing In Its Biggest Employment Markets

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

One of the most sought-after office employers in the U.S. has taken a step toward recognizing a negative side effect of its job creation.

Amazon has announced a pledge of $2B toward the creation and preservation of affordable housing in its home city of Seattle, the location of its second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, and the home of its "National Operations Center of Excellence" in Nashville, Tennessee, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Amazon will distribute the largest portion of those funds via low-cost loans to owners and developers of affordable housing, with some money also being disbursed in the form of grants to public housing agencies and minority-led community organizations, the WSJ reports.

With the $2B pledge, Amazon is following in the footsteps of other tech giants that have mostly focused their efforts in California. In June of 2019, Google announced that it was planning to lease $750M of corporate land in Silicon Valley to be repurposed for affordable housing and to invest $250M in the creation of 5,000 affordable units in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Three months later, Facebook pledged $1B of its own in a similar fashion, arriving at that number by combining the value of land it plans to convert into affordable housing with planned investments and donations into public-private partnerships in California and local jurisdictions.

In November 2019, Apple upped the ante by committing $2.5B, $300M of which accounted for land it controls in San Jose. The San Cupertino-based company also pledged to establish a $1B mortgage assistance fund it would co-manage with the state of California and a $1B fund for low-cost affordable development financing statewide.

Among those who will be tasked with leading Amazon's housing efforts is Catherine Buell, who the WSJ identified as a head of community development for one of Amazon’s philanthropic arms. Buell formerly led the Atlanta Housing Authority before resigning in 2018.