Can Amazon offset its impact on local housing markets?

Amazon is closing in on generating $2 billion in funding for affordable housing in Seattle and its other HQ markets. This initiative is an attempt to address concerns that the tech giant is driving up real estate costs in and around its primary corporate centers.

Since its inception in 2021, the Amazon Housing Equity Fund has financed $670 million in greater Seattle housing developments, totaling 7,200 units, which would house approximately 15,500 people.

Since just December, Amazon has provided $122 million in local financing. This funding will subsidize nine multifamily housing projects that total more than 1,700 units in Seattle, Bellevue and Kirkland. These include the eight-story Atrium Court, offering 271 income-restricted apartments and retail space, Ardea at Totem Lake, a 170-unit senior housing complex, and the proposed Altaire at Jackson Park, with 207 units slated to open next year. The funding also includes the Terrapin Apartments with 155 affordable units about a half-mile from the new Bellevue downtown light-rail station.

Amazon is now approaching the equity fund’s goal at launch: $2 billion in funding by 2025 in response to criticism that the e-commerce giant was driving up real estate prices near its offices. The “Amazon Effect” – well known to Seattleites – occurs when an added population of high-wage employees reduces housing supply and pushes up housing prices.

The company’s equity fund provides financing for projects that might otherwise not be built, allowing new or renovated units to come to market that would be unfeasible at affordable price points. Its other intent is to then keep those units affordable for 99 years in Amazon-adjacent markets seeing high and increasing rents.

Alice Shobe, global director of Amazon Community Impact, which oversees the housing fund, points to the fund’s ability to quickly provide meaningful local support, to both housing non-profits and developers. As an example, Amazon funding has helped increase the number of affordable housing units in Bellevue by 20 percent in the last few years. With our region’s strong tech economy leading to continuously rising housing prices, this is a step in the right direction. 

This post was based on information found on CoStar. Photo credit:, Nitze-Stagen.

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