Microsoft’s Affordable Housing Initiative Helped Lower Rents Outskirts Seattle

Image Source: Urban Housing Ventures

By Jean Johnson

Seattle (AP) — A full-time job as a master’s and junior high school counselor wasn’t enough for Sam Baker to land a generous apartment in the eastern suburbs of Seattle. But a $ 750 million commitment by a local tech giant helped with the trick.

In August, Baker moved to a new apartment in one of three complexes recently purchased by Urban Housing Ventures. This is a partnership partly backed by Microsoft’s affordable housing initiative. The group is a unit of three buildings, including one bedroom on the fourth floor of Baker overlooking Lake Washington, as part of an effort to enable teachers, nurses, and other middle-income professionals to live in the community. Reducing rent by 40% of where they work.

Rent cuts have been achieved without local public subsidies, but are models designed to remain attractive to investors-an approach that can and should be replicated nationwide. That’s what its supporters say.

“This program has given me more room to live here,” said Baker, 51, a counselor at Sammamish’s Eastside Catholic School. “I don’t want to commute too much. I like being in an area where I can walk a lot — there are restaurants, banks, dentists, hairdressers and bars. It’s very convenient.”

Microsoft launched the initiative two years ago to address the issues created by its success. Even decent middle-income people have been cut as the tech industry in the region is booming and high-paying tech workers have pushed up housing costs. .. Jane Bloom, senior director of the company’s philanthropy, said in a blog post Thursday that between 2011 and 2019, employment increased by 24% and housing increased by only 12%. Median household income rose 34% and home prices rose 78%.

Other tech giants, including Google and Apple, have recently invested hundreds of millions of dollars to boost affordable homes following long-standing complaints that they have exacerbated the problem.

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Microsoft initially promised $ 500 million, many of which said it would offer market-priced or sub-market-priced loans to developers who want to build affordable homes. Some have been eligible for grants to deal with the homeless, such as providing legal assistance to those facing eviction. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it would raise Ante by $ 250 million and provide credit to help the Washington Finance Commission fund approximately 3,000 additional units of affordable homes. I promised.

However, building a new, affordable home takes time. So on Thursday, the company announced that it had invested $ 40 million to help Urban Housing Ventures buy three existing market-priced complexes (two in Bellevue and one in Kirkland). did. Urban Housing Ventures is quickly reducing the rent of residents who earn 60% to 80% of the median income of the region. The partnership also benefits from a $ 325 million loan commitment from the Federal Mortgage Mortgage Corporation, well known as Freddie Mac.

For Baker, who has four grown-up children and lives alone, this means a discount of about $ 600 a month. That’s $ 1,623 instead of over $ 2,200. She said it wasn’t enough for her to save a lot. But she can make ends meet without having to work in a seasonal department store during her vacation, as she did when she lived in an old apartment.

And it’s a great place — she said, opposite the beach, with covered parking and a gym.

“The Puget Sound region isn’t building enough housing for the people who live here, including many at the forefront of the community’s response to COVID-19,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement. It is stated in. “This fresh and creative approach to bring new private sector financing and financing quickly to address the affordable housing crisis in our home state of Washington and across the country. Is required. “

Part of the reason buildings remain attractive to investors is that demand for units below market prices is so high that sales are low and vacancies are expected to be low in the economic downturn. .. Stream real estate development that oversees the operation of Urban Housing Ventures.

Microsoft announced Thursday that it will provide $ 25 million to the Washington State Housing Finance Commission to fund affordable home developers, in addition to $ 40 million for a $ 750 million commitment. ..


Source: Associated Press

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