Amazon’s housing initiative does little for low-income workers

“Amazon sought to allay fears about the displacement of residents around its new headquarters in Northern Virginia by committing last year to create and preserve thousands of affordable housing units in the notoriously tight market of the DC area.” But as Teo Armus reports, “For now, however, Amazon’s efforts are unlikely to do much to move the needle for the area’s lower income residents, many of whom are already stretching their paychecks. to make rent every month.”

Armus writes that “of more than 4,100 secure units to date, only 215 will be reserved for residents who earn 50% or less of the region’s median income.” Housing advocates worry that rising costs will drive workers away from employment centers, creating additional traffic and emissions as they are forced to travel longer distances.

In an interview, Catherine Buell, director of Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund, said the problem was too big for “even an Amazon” to solve on her own. “Amazon is not responsible for affordable housing issues, and governments are primarily responsible for managing housing issues in their community. We are here to be a partner.

The article then describes the difficult situations faced by many workers in the region and similar efforts by other tech companies to create more affordable housing for their employees. “Some saw these efforts as a tacit acknowledgment by these tech titans that they also needed to stabilize housing prices to attract the desired workforce. Homes in many parts of Silicon Valley have become prohibitively expensive even for well-paid software engineers, and Northern Virginia is not far behind.