Amazon is including $1.4 billion to a fund it established three years in the past for preserving or constructing extra reasonably priced housing in areas the place the corporate has main company places of work, CEO Andy Jassy introduced Tuesday.

Construction automobiles are parked outdoors of the Station U & O constructing on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Washington. The condominium constructing was constructed utilizing investments from Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund. The firm mentioned Tuesday its including $1.4 billion to the fund with a purpose to assist protect or assemble extra reasonably priced housing items in three areas. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)(AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is including $1.4 billion to a fund it established three years in the past for preserving or constructing extra affordable housing in areas the place the corporate has main company places of work, CEO Andy Jassy introduced Tuesday.

The Seattle-based company mentioned the brand new sum would go on high of the $2.2 billion it had already invested to assist create or protect 21,000 reasonably priced housing items in three areas: the Puget Sound in Washington state; Arlington, Virginia; and Nashville, Tennessee. When it launched its Housing Equity Fund in January 2021, Amazon mentioned it aimed to fund 20,000 items over 5 years.

The further cash will go to the identical areas with a aim of constructing or sustaining 14,000 extra houses via grants and below-market-rate loans. To date, a lot of the funding went to non-profit and for-profit builders within the type of loans that permit Amazon to earn income via curiosity funds. Amazon mentioned 80% of the items additionally benefited from authorities funding.

Like different tech companies which have made comparable investments, Amazon launched its reasonably priced housing fund following years of complaints that well-paid tech employees helped drive up housing prices in areas the place their employers had arrange major hubs.

Housing advocates in cities like Seattle and San Francisco have lengthy blamed an influx of corporate workers for driving up the demand for housing and pricing out long-time residents.

Alice Shobe, the worldwide director of Amazon Community Impact division, mentioned 59% of the items Amazon supported to date have been preservation initiatives that make use of present housing. They embody donations and loans to nonprofits and native authorities businesses that may buy buildings and stabilize rents, or in any other case preserve naturally occurring reasonably priced housing.

In addition to sustaining housing inventory, such initiatives stop personal builders from transforming condominium buildings and placing the items available on the market at a lot greater costs, Shobe mentioned in an interview.

“We’ve made an enormous distinction in each the quantity and high quality of reasonably priced housing in these three communities,” she mentioned.

Amazon targets its investments to offer housing for people with low-to-moderate incomes, which the corporate defines as these incomes 30% to 80% of a given area’s “space median earnings.” The firm has mentioned it desires to give attention to what it calls the “lacking center,” a demographic that features professionals like nursing assistants and teachers who don’t qualify for presidency subsidies however nonetheless battle to pay lease.

In September, Amazon made a $40 million funding to drive dwelling possession within the three areas. But the remainder of the cash to date has gone towards condominium buildings.

The firm beforehand acquired some criticism in Northern Virginia for neglecting the housing wants of individuals on the decrease finish of the earnings spectrum. Projects designed for such people are prone to require extra authorities subsidies and take longer to finish, mentioned Derek Hyra, a professor at American University and a founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Center.

Shobe mentioned Amazon has labored to take care of a “combined portfolio” with out shedding its give attention to the lacking center. Currently, the corporate says a lot of the items it has supported serve households incomes lower than 60% of the realm median earnings, which fits as much as $82,200 for a household of 4 in Washington state’s King County, the place Seattle is positioned.

Companies like Amazon can assist with the provision of reasonably priced housing, however their cash alone received’t do a lot to maneuver the needle with out important investments from the federal government, in line with Hyra.

“They have a great amount of cash, however not sufficient cash to resolve the issue,” he mentioned.

An inner Amazon memo that was leaked last year to the nonprofit labor group Warehouse Worker Resource Center and posted on-line exhibits the corporate sees its philanthropy as a software that may assist it burnish its status.

According to an individual accustomed to the matter, the housing fund beforehand sat underneath Amazon’s authorities and company affairs division. However, it was moved to the corporate’s public relations arm when Jay Carney, Amazon’s former public coverage and communications chief, left in 2022, the individual mentioned.

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