This month, Amazon introduced a new Fair Housing Fund, investing more than $ 2 billion to preserve and create more than 20,000 units of affordable housing in three communities where the company has thousands of employees: Washington State’s Puget Sound; Arlington, Virginia; and Nashville, Tennessee.
Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund will help preserve existing homes and help create housing developments through below-market loans and grants to housing partners, public agencies, and minority-led organizations.
The Fund seeks to “ensure that moderate to low-income families can afford housing in resource-rich communities with easy access to neighborhood services, amenities, and jobs,” according to a press release.
Amazon’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 at the Crystal House property in Arlington and $ 185.5 million in loans and grants below. from the market to the King County Housing Authority to preserve up to 1,000 affordable homes in Washington State, with additional investments in all three regions.
“I am delighted that Amazon and the King County Housing Authority are working together to make our growing Bellevue community more inclusive, equitable, and rich in opportunity for families of all income levels,” said the administrator of the town of Bellevue, Brad Miyake. “Corporate and nonprofit partnerships like this will ensure long-term positive change as we address this affordability crisis together as a region.”
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said his company has been helping people in need, including building Mary’s Place. family haven in Amazon’s newest office building last year to support more than 200 homeless women and children in Puget Sound. “This new $ 2 billion Fair Housing Fund will create or preserve 20,000 affordable homes … (and) help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong and inclusive communities.”
Amazon is providing below-market capital, in the form of loans, lines of credit and grants, to households that earn between 30% and 80% of the area median income. In the Washington, DC metropolitan area, this translates to a household of four making less than $ 79,600 a year. In the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area, this translates to a household of four making less than $ 95,250 a year.
Amazon Home Investment Fund will provide an additional $ 125 million in cash grants to businesses, nonprofits and minority-led organizations.
“In the booming cities of the US, many affordable apartment buildings for teachers, healthcare providers, public transportation workers, and others with modest incomes are increasingly being converted to luxury apartments, causing displacement and reduces housing options for working families, “said Sarah Rosen Wartell. President, Urban Institute.
“Investments like those announced by Amazon that help preserve these existing buildings and maintain moderate rent levels are critical to local efforts that promote economic inclusion and support stability and economic mobility for low- and moderate-income families.”
the Fair housing fund website details the commitments:
Crystal House of the Washington Housing Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia
Amazon’s Virginia Housing Equity Fund’s first commitment includes a $ 339.9 million below-market loan and $ 42 million in grants to the Washington Housing Conservancy (WHC), a non-profit organization that preserves homes to be affordable for moderate to low income residents. A typical affordable home purchase would be financed with a combination of loans and private investment, with interest rates of up to 15% for certain parts of the financing. Access to lower-cost, long-term financing from Amazon will allow WHC to maintain future affordability in Arlington’s National Landing neighborhood. Amazon grants also include $ 2 million to fund WHC’s social impact work.
With Amazon’s flexible capital, WHC was able to execute the Crystal House purchase in less than two months, an accelerated schedule for commercial real estate transactions. WHC’s financial partner, Washington Housing Initiative and Impact Pool, created by developer JBG SMITH, provided commercial real estate expertise and an additional $ 6.7 million loan. Crystal House will offer a dynamic rental structure. Through natural tenant turnover, rents will be lowered significantly to attract households earning less than 80% AMI. Conversion of existing apartments to more affordable apartments began on January 1, 2021 and will continue for the next five years. A 99-year agreement ensures that Crystal House will remain affordable in the long term. JBG SMITH will manage the property on behalf of WHC.
“Amazon’s investment in affordable housing in Arlington is transformative, and it couldn’t come at a better time,” said Matt de Ferranti, chairman of the Arlington County board. “We are delighted to further strengthen our partnership with Amazon and work together to fulfill our shared commitment to equity and economic opportunity for all of our residents.”
King County Housing Authority in Washington State
As part of Amazon’s ongoing and growing partnership with the King County Housing Authority (KCHA), the first commitment from Amazon’s Fair Housing Fund in Washington will fund an initial $ 161.5 million below-market loan and $ 24 million in grants to preserve the affordability of 1,000 apartments. The funds, to begin with, will allow KCHA to complete acquisition financing on 470 recently acquired units at three properties: Pinewood Village (108 units), Hampton Greens (326 units) and Illahee Apartments (36 units), preserving these critical resources such as housing. affordable while keeping rent affordable for households with incomes equal to or less than 80% of local median income. This commitment includes $ 4 million of grant funds to support housing preservation for extremely low-income households (less than 30% AMI) at Illahee Apartments.
The Housing Authority’s portfolio currently includes more than 7,000 affordable housing units for low- and moderate-income workers. With the support of Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund, KCHA will continue to build its portfolio and increase affordability over time by minimizing rent increases. These buildings will remain affordable in the long term, for at least 99 years.
“Purchasing these properties in Bellevue to ensure they remain affordable is critical to preserving the economic diversity of this area,” said Stephen Norman, Executive Director of the King County Housing Authority. “We are excited to work with Amazon to preserve affordable housing options close to jobs, transit and schools. Our entire region thrives when a variety of housing options are available to everyone. “
Since announcing its selection of Arlington as the site of its second headquarters, Amazon has donated more than $ 19 million to community organizations in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Most recently, Amazon donated $ 3 million through four legal services agencies to support families and individuals facing eviction problems due to challenges stemming from the ongoing pandemic. In Seattle, Amazon has provided more than $ 100 million in cash and in-kind donations to Mary’s Place, a nonprofit organization focused on fighting homelessness for families.
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