Amazon and Facebook Plan to Invest in Housing in Multiple Cities

According to a press release on January 9, Amazon plans to invest $2 billion in housing in three American cities over the next five years. Those cities are Seattle, Nashville and Arlington. Amazon expects to have at least 5,000 employees in each city within five years, and the company's goal is to make housing more affordable for its workers.

Reasons Behind Amazon's Investment

Amazon has come under criticism in the past for causing gentrification in places where it has opened large facilities. The company's influx of workers drives up housing costs for the existing residents and its workers who have relocated to the area. According to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the money will help both Amazon employees and local families achieve and maintain stable housing in those three cities.

Amazon Appoints a Director of Amazon in the Community

According to Alice Shobe, who is Amazon's first Director of Amazon in the Community, the company got into housing because it wants to have a strong presence. It wants to be rated as a good neighbor. The company also wants to help solve some of the problems that families in the community are facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company initially got into housing when its Vice President of Real Estate, John Schoettler, acquired a property in Seattle to build the corporation's new headquarters.

Amazon's First Venture Into Real Estate

A few years ago, Schoettler offered Mary's Place, a local nonprofit organization, the use of two motels on the Seattle property owned by Amazon. The organization was able to use the hotels as homeless shelters for one year. After that, the properties were demolished and replaced with a high-rise office structure. After the new headquarters was complete, Mary's Place was delighted to learn that Amazon included a state-of-the-art homeless shelter within the office structure. It's the state's largest homeless shelter. Since March 2020, 200 families have stayed in Mary's Place at the Amazon headquarters every night.

How Amazon Sees Its Role in the Community

As a corporation, Amazon has been trying to expand its community outreach. It approaches community concerns like business concerns. Its process involves leveraging its assets. Amazon always has cash, and money is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to combating homelessness. However, Amazon also aims to include its logistics, relationships and employees as assets that can help the community.

Amazon Announces New Housing Equity Fund

On January 6, Amazon announced that it created a housing equity fund. The $2 billion will be used to both create and preserve 20,000 affordable housing units in Seattle, Nashville and Arlington. The funds will be for families that earn 30% to 80% of the area's median income. Amazon will offer below-market loans, lines of credit and grants based on income and need. The fund will provide another $125 million in grants to local minority-led community organizations that are prepared to address the housing crisis in people of color.

What Amazon Hopes to Do

Amazon hopes that its fund will help attract new partners that haven't yet started serving their communities. They also want government partners, such as local school districts and mass transit authorities, to be involved in their community outreach projects. Their ultimate goal is to create and maintain affordable and equitable housing communities that are safe, structurally sound and convenient.

Why Amazon Has Gotten Involved in Housing

Housing availability impacts communities across the United States. A lack of affordable housing has been a problem for a long time. People of color are disproportionately affected by the lack of affordable and safe housing. In 2019, the gap between black and white home ownership had a 30% spread. Whites have home ownership rates of about 73.3% as of 2019. In the same year, the rate of home ownership among African Americans was 42.8%. The rate of home ownership has been mostly flat for years. The rate of home ownership in Asian households was 57.3% in 2019.

Facebook Announces a New Housing Project

Amazon isn't the only big business getting in on the housing market. Facebook just unveiled a plan for new housing units in its Willow Village community. This community is located in Menlo Park. It offers a mix of housing and office space. It's known for being pedestrian-friendly. The community will have more housing, and it will include affordable housing for senior citizens.

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