Microsoft announced that is committed to addressing the problem of a lack of affordable housing in the region of Puget Sound, Washington. Microsoft made that area its home in 1979.
But the Puget Sound area’s growth has also created new challenges. In recent years, our region hasn’t built enough housing for the people who live here. Since 2011, jobs in the region have grown 21 percent, while growth in housing construction has lagged at 13 percent. This gap in affordable housing has caused housing prices to surge 96 percent in the past eight years, making the Greater Seattle area the sixth most expensive region in the United States.
Microsoft will invest:
- $225 million at lower than market rate returns to inject capital to subsidize the preservation and construction of middle-income housing. These investments initially will be made in six cities east of Seattle and Lake Washington: Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Renton and Sammamish.
- $250 million at market rate returns to support low-income housing across the entire King County region. Microsoft believes that additional capitol at market lending rates can help accelerate the construction of low-income housing across the region.
- $25 million in philanthropic grants to address homelessness in the greater Seattle region. Microsoft announced the first $10 million of these grants. This will include a $5 million philanthropic grant to the newly announced Home Base program created by the Seattle Marines, the United Way of King County, and the King County Bar Association. The program helps keep people facing eviction in their homes through legal aid, access to flexible funds and case management.
- Microsoft will also grant $5 million to support a new joint agency on homelessness being formed by the city of Seattle and King County.
Personally, I think this is a wonderful idea! I think that more big companies should follow in Microsoft’s footsteps and enact similar plans in other areas. I’d like to see a world where big companies, who have tons of money, use some of it to actually help people who are struggling.