Microsoft is spending $500 million to offset big tech’s impact on housing

Microsoft is back.
Microsoft is back.
Image: AP Photo/Raphael Satter
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The growth of tech companies typically far outpaces the growth of their home cities; San Francisco and Seattle have seen skyrocketing real estate prices as more and more affluent workers flood in for high-paying coding jobs. But that’s catastrophic for those not on the six-figure salary of a tech coder.

Microsoft, based just outside of Seattle, announced Jan. 16 that it’s spending $500 million to offset the lack of affordable housing, as well as combat homelessness in the area. The money will be dispensed through at- and below-market loans meant to promote development, as well as grants that support efforts to support the homeless through legal aid, financial funding, and case work.

The money also comes with renewed efforts from the mayors of surrounding Washington state counties, who are pledging to streamline the process for getting approval to build low- or middle-income housing, as well as reducing development fees and consider rezoning certain areas for housing.

Microsoft says that it’s partnered with the real estate website Zillow to get data about housing in the region, to help it determine where its money might be most effective. It’s also working with Challenge Seattle, a group of Washington-based companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Costco, and Alaska Airlines, whose mission is to reinvest into Seattle’s local economy.

The move comes at a time where other large tech companies, like Amazon, are being accused on parachuting into locations like New York’s Long Island City and raising rents. Even in New York City’s expensive housing market, experts predict that adjacent middle-class neighborhoods will see an entirely new market emerge as Amazon moves in.