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Tue July 16 2019

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Microsoft puts $500m into affordable housing

17 Jan Microsoft has committed US$500m towards an initiative aimed at tackling a shortage of affordable housing in the areas around its Seattle base.

The money will be used to preserve existing affordable housing, spur construction of new units and partner with non-profits to address the affordable housing crisis on the Eastside of King County and in the Puget Sound region. The majority of this capital will be put to use over the next three years.

Across the region, housing costs have risen and have increasingly pushed out people with lower and middle incomes. Puget Sound has become the sixth most expensive region in the USA and the region has seen a 21% increase in jobs since 2011, coupled with only a 13% increase in the number of housing units. Microsoft said that the problem is even more pronounced in the smaller cities around Seattle than in Seattle itself.

“If we’re going to make progress, we’ll all need to work together as a community,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith and Microsoft chief financial officer Amy Hood in a joint blog post. “Ultimately, a healthy business needs to be part of a healthy community. And a healthy community must have housing within the economic reach of every part of the community, including the many dedicated people who provide the vital services on which we all rely.”

The Microsoft announcement accompanied a joint declaration from the mayors of nine of the largest cities around Seattle to take steps to increase affordable housing capacity. They will consider changes in zoning to increase the pipeline of housing in selected areas, provision of public land near transit locations and measures to address permitting processes and fees along with the creation of tax incentives for developers.

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