Local housing developers get hands-off support from Amazon
Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund came calling just in time to spur movement on Jaebadiah Gardner’s vision for an affordable housing project in the heart of Seattle’s Central District. Gardner Global, which seeks to create cycles of wealth for people who have previously been left out of these opportunities, is the recipient of a $4.5 million grant that will support a 122-unit project at 23rd Avenue and Union Street. Amazon’s support will enable Gardner to go vertical with the project in mid-2025, in a neighborhood that has historically been one of Seattle’s most diverse.
In early 2021, the Seattle tech giant pledged $2 billion toward affordable housing. Since then, the Amazon Housing Equity Fund has focused on regions where its corporate workforce has grown or is planning to grow. As of November, the company has funded 1,300 housing units in Seattle.
Amazon has taken care to handpick developer and housing associations instead of just funding nonprofits or city housing offices in bulk. According to Alice Shobe, global director of Amazon in the Community, leaving the specific details to Gardner Global, in this case, was a conscious effort to allow those who know the community best to own strategy and outcomes.
Amazon has contributed to the development of affordable housing in our region through grants and low-rate loans. These have funded projects that account for almost 4,400 units so far. The company also contributed $25,000 in support of the Seattle Housing Levy, which voters approved in November.
Playing the role of a hands-off financier and partner, the Amazon Housing Equity Fund will help the Gardner Global project move along more quickly, avoiding the unpredictable timeline that developers often face. Ultimately, Amazon put the group in a position they would not otherwise be in: one step closer to decreasing the wealth gap with communities of color and creating a new wealth cycle instead.