Microsoft’s housing pledge could be a model for Amazon

The Microsoft headquarters campus in Redmond, Washington
The Microsoft headquarters campus in Redmond, Washington
Katherine Welles / Shutterstock
The Microsoft headquarters campus in Redmond, Washington.

Microsoft’s housing pledge could be a model for Amazon

A similar move in Long Island City could buy the company some goodwill with its new neighbors.
January 23, 2019

As Long Island City prepares for a new Amazon headquarters, hardline critics continue to rail against HQ2 while the company and its supporters mount a PR campaign extolling its financial benefits. Skeptics of the deal, occupying a more ambiguous space in the middle of the road, are asking: what will Amazon do for us?

The $27 billion in state and local tax revenue that proponents of HQ2 say it will bring to New York could very well be used to build more affordable housing in Long Island City as the neighborhood faces the threat of gentrification. But in the event that not enough tax revenue is targeted in that direction, Microsoft’s recent plan to invest $500 million towards affordable housing in Seattle may offer an alternative solution.

Amazon could adopt Microsoft’s approach – including a commitment to $475 million in loans at market or below-market interest rates to support affordable housing in Seattle, plus $25 million in donations to services for low-income and homeless people – and adapt it for the New York City market.

While this initiative is by no means a perfect solution – critics have pointed out that Microsoft’s move is hardly adequate to fix the housing crisis in Seattle – a similar move by Amazon in Long Island City could, at the very least, buy the company some goodwill with its new neighbors.

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Annie McDonough
Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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