Amazon is earmarking $25 million for a new public-private housing fund to build affordable homes near transit across Washington state. The funding is from the company’s $2 billion Housing Equity Fund it announced in 2021 to create or preserve 20,000 affordable homes in its headquarters locations.
The tech giant is supporting Senate Bill 5466, a measure that would establish a public-private partnership for affordable housing in high-capacity transit corridors across the state. The bill, currently supported by more than 20 legislators, also includes minimum density standards next to high-capacity transit stations.
“The goal is to rapidly increase affordable housing near public transit,” stated Alice Shobe, global director of Amazon in the Community. “Transit-oriented development supports the community in many ways,” she wrote in a blog. “It promotes racial and economic equity. It benefits low- to moderate-income families by accelerating the creation of affordable homes, and easy access to quality transit connects residents to jobs, education and opportunities across the region.”
In announcing the $25 million allocation, Amazon noted, “While only governments at the local, state, and federal level have the capacity to implement more effective housing policies, we believe that the private and public sectors can work together to address this challenge. SB 5466 is an innovative and equitable way to accelerate the construction of affordable housing.”
Washington REALTORS® is also backing SB 5466, ranking it among the “high priority” measures on its legislative agenda.
In 2021, Amazon and Sound Transit announced a partnership to accelerate the creation of up to 1,200 new affordable housing units on Sound Transit surplus properties near light rail stations across the Puget Sound region. The $100 million commitment in below-market funding was intended for both pre-development activities and the construction of housing for moderate- to low-income families.
“Housing and transit are intertwined . . .This commitment will help ensure families from all income levels will benefit from the build out of mass transit – greater affordability and equitable economic opportunity, easy access to daily needs, and the environmental benefits of reduced traffic congestion and car reliance,” stated Catherine Buell, director of Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund, in a news release announcing that 2021 pledge.
Projects announced by Amazon since establishing the Housing Equity Fund are located in various neighborhoods in Seattle, as well as in Bothell, Federal Way, Kirkland and Tacoma. Through grants and low-rate loans, the company is also supporting housing developments on surplus transit land near Nashville and in the Washington, D.C. metro area.