Microsoft to increase its commitment to affordable housing

The housing market has long been competitive in Puget Sound, perhaps nowhere quite as intensely as the Eastside. With the growth of large employers like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Facebook, Eastside housing prices have been steadily rising for years. With this in mind, Redmond-based Microsoft has redoubled its commitment to providing affordable housing in the area.

Since 2019, Microsoft’s Affordable Housing Initiative has so far allocated $583 million toward building and preserving about 9,200 units across Puget Sound. The goal of the initiative is ultimately to address the rising issues of housing and homelessness, exacerbated as large companies like Microsoft draw more workers to the area.

Originally, Microsoft planned to commit $500 million toward these issues, but the company has since increased that amount to $750 million. Additionally, the tech company has increased its partnership with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, pledging $75 million toward the Expanded Land Acquisition Program. This program enables developers to purchase land and improved real estate to be developed into affordable rental units and single-family homes.

Microsoft is also implementing a new financing approach that allows organizations to acquire existing housing and convert it to middle-income properties (middle income levels for King County are between $69,000 and $139,000). The Renton Housing Authority’s purchase of 95 Burnett Apartments was facilitated with this new financing model, which Microsoft hopes will attract more private investment into middle-income housing.

Finally, Microsoft is also working to address homelessness directly, with $3 million in cash grants distributed across four organizations, and a $3 million bridge loan to  Congregations for the Homeless. These grants will support local organizations in building new housing and providing other supportive services to those experiencing homelessness.

This article was originally posted on 425Business by John Stearns.

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