In January 2019, Microsoft announced an investment of $500 million in affordable housing in the Seattle area. This month, the tech giant followed up the announcement with a $250 million increase to their affordable housing initiative in the form of a line of credit to the Washington State Finance Commission.
According to Microsoft, this line of credit will enable the WSHFC to finance approximately 3,000 additional units of much-needed affordable housing. Making the original announcement, Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer at Microsoft said that as a company Microsoft, which is headquartered in the neighboring city of Redmond, was very focused for the past 15 years on the health of the region and had "pursued this by focusing on two issues above all else—education and transportation."
Smith said that the changing times have made the company think about expanding their focus to include "the affordability of housing."
Microsoft is not the only major tech company to announce housing partnerships and investments. In October, Facebook that it will be committing $1 billion toward affordable housing in Silicon Valley. The aim is to produce up to 20,000 new housing units for workers over the next decade. Much of the new units are aimed at teachers, police, and other middle-class workers in the Menlo Park area, Wall Street Journal reports.
Facebook is following Google’s announcement earlier this year in which the company announced that it will spend $1 billion on efforts aimed at increasing affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay area, in part by utilizing some of Google’s land.
Microsoft’s data science team found that the year-over-year growth rate of the affordable housing gap has slowed from 10.8% in 2017 to 10.5% in 2018 and to 3.6% in 2019.
“While we’re encouraged to see this growth rate fall, it’s clear that what we really need to do is see the housing gap fall, not continue to increase,” said Jane Broom, Senior Director, Microsoft Philanthropies. “To achieve this, our community needs to come together and act with greater urgency, creativity and shared accountability. It will require a spectrum of new financial, technical and societal approaches that are created in partnership with people who share a collective vision.”