Amazon creates $2 billion affordable housing fund that includes Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia is among three regions across the country that will benefit from a Housing Equity Fund being created by Amazon.
Amazon announced the fund on Wednesday and said it represents a more than $2 billion commitment to preserve and create more than 20,000 affordable housing units in its three headquarters areas: Northern Virginia, Washington State’s Puget Sound region and Nashville, Tenn.
For these three regions, in which the company has or expects to have at least 5,000 employees each in the coming years, the fund will help preserve existing housing and create inclusive housing developments through below-market loans and grants to housing partners, public agencies, and minority-led organizations.
The company said the fund will help ensure that moderate- to low-income families can afford housing in communities with easy access to neighborhood services, amenities and jobs.
“This commitment to affordable housing is unprecedented in Northern Virginia, and I want to thank and congratulate Amazon for leading by example to tackle one of the region’s most significant challenges,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.
Amazon is now one of the 10 largest employers in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties, according to the most recent comprehensive annual financial reports published by each county government.
“Like the commitment to creation of thousands of tech jobs, and its commitment to educational excellence, creating the Housing Equity Fund is another significant manifestation of the benefits of Amazon’s presence and growth in Northern Virginia,” Hoskins said.
Amazon announced in November 2018 that it would locate its HQ2 in the Crystal City area of Arlington. The company’s first investments in affordable housing in this region include $381.9 million in below-market loans and grants to the Washington Housing Conservancy to preserve and create up to 1,300 affordable homes on the Crystal House apartment complex close to HQ2.
Additional investments are anticipated in this region, the company said. The new fund will help local families “achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.
Since announcing its HQ2 location, Amazon also has donated more than $19 million to community organizations across the Washington, D.C., area. Most recently, Amazon gave $3 million across four legal service agencies to support families and individuals facing eviction issues due to challenges stemming from the ongoing pandemic: Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Virginia Poverty Law Center, Bread for the City’s Legal Clinic, and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.
For the Housing Equity Fund, Amazon is providing below-market capital — in the form of loans, lines of credit, and grants — to preserve and create 20,000 homes affordable for moderate- to low-income families. The company is targeting households making between 30% and 80% of the area’s median income. In the Washington area, this translates to a household of four earning less than $79,600 a year.
The fund will also provide an additional $125 million in cash grants to businesses, nonprofits, and minority-led organizations to help them build a more inclusive solution to the affordable housing crisis, which the company noted disproportionately affects communities of color. The fund will also give grants to government partners not traditionally involved in affordable housing issues, such as transit agencies and school districts, to provide them with resources to advance and create equitable and affordable housing initiatives.
“With Amazon’s support, we are advancing our vision for inclusive, mixed-income communities of racially diverse middle-income and low-income families and individuals, to live near their employment and access high-performing schools and community amenities,” said Kimberly Driggins, executive director of the Washington Housing Conservancy.