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Amazon commits $2 billion toward affordable housing

The company says it will create 20,000 affordable housing units in cities where it many employees, starting off with 1,000 apartments in the Seattle region.

WASHINGTON — Editor's note: The video above was first published in October 2019.

Amazon says it is committing $2 billion to help fund affordable housing units in Washington, Virginia and Tennessee.

Amazon's "Housing Equity Fund" will help "preserve existing housing and help create inclusive housing developments through below-market loans and grants to housing partners," according to a press release

The company says it will create 20,000 affordable housing units in Washington State's Puget Sound region; Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee, communities with more than 5,000 Amazon employees expected in the coming years. 

"[The equity fund] will also help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

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The online retailer says it has already committed nearly $382 million in loans and grants to the Washington Housing Conservancy to create 1,300 affordable homes in Arlington. A similar $185 million program has been established with the King County Housing Authority to preserve up to 1,000 affordable homes in Washington.

In addition to the $2 billion, Amazon says it will provide $125 million in cash grants to "businesses, nonprofits and minority-led organizations."

According to Realtor.com, the median listing home price is nearly $650,000 in Arlington, Virginia, and $629,000 in the greater Seattle area. This is more than double the median home price in the United States, which sits at $300,000.

After announcing Arlington County as the home of Amazon's second headquarters, the average home price rose by 4% from 2018 to 2019. Experts expect these numbers continue to swell in the years to come. 

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At the company's Puget Sound Headquarters, Amazon already hosts a family shelter supporting over 200 women and children experiencing homelessness in Washington state. 

Credit: AP
An Amazon delivery box sits on a shelf of the room of Connie Wade, Wednesday, June 17, 2020, at Mary's Place, a family homeless shelter located inside an Amazon corporate building on the tech giant's Seattle campus.