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01/17/2019

Microsoft pledges $500 million to tackle housing crisis in Seattle, Eastside

Blessed with a balance sheet that allows for sweeping gestures, Redmond tech giant Microsoft is responding to the region’s widening affordability gap with a $500 million pledge to address homelessness and develop affordable housing across the Puget Sound region.

Most of the money will be aimed at increasing housing options for low- and middle-income workers — workers who “teach our kids in schools, and put out the fires in our houses and keep us alive in the hospital,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith — at a time when they’re being priced out of Seattle and parts of the Eastside, and when the vast majority of new buildings target wealthier renters.

Microsoft officials say it’s too early to say exactly how much affordable housing will ultimately result from the $500 million. Smith, also Microsoft’s chief legal officer, said the company hopes to leverage the fund to help create “tens of thousands of units,” although to accomplish that it would likely have a small role in many projects.

The pledge is the largest in the company’s 44-year history, and, according to the company, is one of the heftiest contributions by a private corporation to housing. In comparison, it dwarfs the $100 million in annual funding for the state’s Housing Trust Fund.

The initiative comes as Microsoft and other tech giants that have driven the region’s economic boom face increasing pressure to help mitigate affordable-housing shortages. Microsoft is coupling its contributions with a call for other companies to step up, and for Eastside cities to facilitate more housing.

 

See the full The Seattle Times article.  

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