Microsoft pledges $500 million for Seattle-area affordable housing initiative

Microsoft pledges $500 million for Seattle-area affordable housing initiative

Microsoft officials say it's too early to say exactly how much affordable housing will ultimately result from the $500 million.

A gap in available housing has caused housing prices to almost double in the past eight years, making the greater Seattle area the sixth most expensive region in the U.S., according to Hood and Smith.

Jobs in the region have grown by 21% since 2011, but growth in housing construction has not kept up at 13%, and it is expected that this new supply deficit will only get worse.

A municipal report from December declared the Seattle region needs 240,000 more affordable housing units by 2040, to ensure low-income households are not spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Microsoft, which is based in nearby Redmond, Washington, didn't take a position on it.

Microsoft will loan $225 million at below-market interest rates to help developers facing high land and construction costs build and preserve "workforce housing" on the Eastside, where the company has 50,000 workers and is planning for more. They discovered that while housing prices soared, new housing construction and wages lagged behind.

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The majority of the funds ($250 million) will go toward market-rate loans to build low-income housing in the King County region, which encompasses the Seattle metropolitan area. The remaining $25 million will be used to address homelessness in the greater Seattle region. (Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) In San Francisco, a similar effort to tax large businesses for programs to address homelessness and affordable housing passed in November after a heated debate between tech impresarios such as Twitter's Jack Dorsey and Salesforce's Marc Benioff.

"We are committing US$500 million as a company to advance affordable housing solutions". "Our goal is to move as quickly as possible with targeted investments that will have an outsized impact".

But the same City Council, under vast pressure from Seattle's corporate community, cancelled the tax four weeks later after Seattle-headquartered Amazon rebelled and announced it was stopping construction on a new office tower in downtown Seattle in response to the new tax.

"The reality is we're requiring more and more people who are so important to our communities to contemplate living farther and farther away", Smith said Thursday.

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. He covers local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and the travel industry.

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