Thursday January 17, 2019

Microsoft Puts $500 Million Towards Affordable Seattle Area Housing

Microsoft says they're committing $500 million towards an affordable housing program in the Pudget Sound region around Seattle. More specifically, $225 million will be invested "at below market rate returns, focused on preserving and developing new middle-income housing on King County’s Eastside," $250 million will be invested "at market rate returns," while $25 million will be donated as a philanthropic grant to address homelessness. Microsoft points out that the Seattle region has seen a 21% increase in jobs and a 13% increase in housing since 2011, and feels at least partially responsible for the growing housing problem. The Seattle Times notes that the announcement comes days after Microsoft revealed plans to modernize their Redmond campus, and that the company is sitting on $135 billion in cash reserves and short-term investments, to put things in perspective. Microsoft made a video for the project, which you can check out below:

For Microsoft, the fund is also a call to action. The company wants philanthropies and businesses to step up with aid, Smith said. Smith said he's open to others contributing to Microsoft's fund and has had talks with executives at other companies. But few have the same amount of cash on hand, he said. He noted Boeing has much of its money tied up in aircraft construction. Smith said he's talked with leaders from Amazon, but declined to disclose details. Convincing the private sector to jump on board might be hard. In Silicon Valley, companies such as Cisco and Microsoft’s LinkedIn have donated $52 million toward a similar housing-loan program, but companies like Google and Facebook have instead chosen to build or advocate for housing near their Silicon Valley headquarters.

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