Microsoft pledges $500 million for Seattle-area affordable housing initiative

Microsoft this week announced that it is committing $500 million to preserve and develop affordable housing in the Puget Sound region. Encompassing areas of King County, the initiative will see the money split between middle-income and low-income housing projects, along with grants to address homelessness.

The project seeks to alleviate rising housing costs in the Puget Sound region, which have "pushed out people with lower and even middle incomes," Microsoft says.

"If we're going to make progress, we'll all need to work together as a community," said Microsoft President Brad Smith and Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood in a joint blog post. "Ultimately, a healthy business needs to be part of a healthy community. And a healthy community must have housing within the economic reach of every part of the community, including the many dedicated people who provide the vital services on which we all rely."

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Microsoft plans to split the money across three major initiatives, which include the following:

  • $225 million invested at below market rate returns, focused on preserving and developing new middle-income housing on King County's Eastside.
  • $250 million invested at market rate returns to support low-income housing across the King County region.
  • $25 million in philanthropic grants to address homelessness. This includes two initial commitments:
    • $5 million for the new Home Base program through the United Way of King County, to prevent people from becoming homeless by providing legal representation, helping with back rent and offering caseworker help.
    • $5 million for the aligned funding that supports the city of Seattle and King County creation of a consolidated entity to address homelessness. This funding will help kick-start a new philanthropic funders collaborative that will work together with government and other partners.

Microsoft's announcement comes as mayors from nine cities surrounding Seattle have also announced plans to tackle affordable housing.

For more on Microsoft's plans to address affordable housing in the Puget Sound region, you can check out the company's full blog post.

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