Amazon pledges $23M to affordable housing in Seattle

Amazon is giving back to its hometown with a new pledge of $23 million for various affordable housing projects. The investment is part of the company’s Housing Equity Fund—an initiative dedicated to creating and maintaining affordable housing in the Puget Sound region and preventing the displacement of locals.

While Amazon has already committed $360 million to create 3,400 affordable housing units in the area, this is its first direct investment in housing within the city of Seattle. The $23 million will help to fund 568 apartments and homes in Seattle’s Columbia City and Mount Baker neighborhoods, for residents who make between 30% and 80% of the area median income.

Through the Housing Equity Fund, Amazon is focusing on preserving affordability, building novel public/private partnerships and working with developers and leaders of color. This includes collaborating with local residents on what they need and would like to see from each new development, thereby fostering a greater sense of community.

Amazon’s commitment in Mount Baker totals $15.2 million in loans to the Mount Baker Housing Association, and will go on to fund two new developments. Grand Street Commons will include 204 units for residents making 60% or less of the area median income. It will be built around a planned light-rail stop near Judkins Park and will be open in summer 2024. The second project, Mount Baker Village, will feature 155 units for tenants at the same income level. Unlike Grand Street Commons, Mount Baker Village is a preservation project, so the Housing Equity Fund will help to refinance current units to ensure they stay affordable in the future.

In addition to these developments, Amazon also pledged $3.5 million to El Centro de la Raza, a nonprofit that serves the Latinx community in the state. The organization plans to develop an 87-unit apartment complex called El Centro Columbia City, to serve residents making 30% to 60% of the area median income. The complex plans to open in summer 2024.

Gardner Global, a Black-owned real estate development group, also received $4.5 million from Amazon to develop an apartment complex called Calvary 1. The complex will include 122 units for tenants making 80% or less of the area median income and will be ready in Winter 2025.

Not only will these various communities feature affordable housing, many of them will also include child care and development centers, resources for financial assistance, health and fitness centers, and programs to teach life skills. The goal is not only to create affordable housing, but to build strong communities that foster growth and development among their residents.

This article was originally posted on the Seattle Times by Lauren Rosenblatt.

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