Amazon and Metro team up for $125M affordable housing plan
Units will be built near Metro stations across Washington, D.C. area
Amazon.com Inc. and Metro announced Wednesday a plan to build more than 1,000 affordable housing units near Metro stations in the Washington, D.C., area over the next five years, with the e-tail giant committing $125 million in below-market capital.
The program is part of Amazon’s $2 billion Housing Equity Fund, which aims to build and preserve more than 20,000 affordable homes in regions where it has significant presences. In the Washington region, Amazon has partnered with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which manages Metrorail and Metrobus service, to create affordable housing in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. close to Metro stations, easing commuting times and expenses for moderate to low-income residents.
The below-market capital will be available only to developers that have joint development agreements with Metro, and $25 million of the $125 million total will be exclusively available to minority-led developers on Metro’s joint development sites. Developers must apply for funding.
In January, Amazon announced its first Housing Equity Fund commitment in Arlington, where it is building its East Coast HQ2 headquarters, to give $381.9 million in below-market loans and grants to the Washington Housing Conservancy, which purchased the 16-acre Crystal House site in Arlington. Ultimately the deal will produce about 1,300 affordable units for the next 99 years, according to WHC.
Amazon has taken similar tacks in Washington state’s Puget Sound region and Nashville, Tennessee, for its Housing Equity Fund project, partnering with their public transit agencies in the round of investments announced Wednesday.
“Transit-oriented development has a proud legacy at Metro, and with this investment from Amazon we can continue to help the region tackle the challenges of housing affordability, congestion, and sustainability,” Metro General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a statement. “Having a philanthropic partner in this effort, along with the support of the public and private sectors, puts the region on the best path possible to meeting our shared housing, transit, equity, and economic prosperity goals.”
According to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, there’s an estimated need for 320,000 new housing units through the region by 2030, and the council recommended that at least 75% be near job centers or high-capacity transit, as well as 75% be affordable for low- and middle-income households.
“Amazon is committed to creating and preserving inclusive housing developments so moderate- to low-income families can thrive and benefit from the goodness our region has to offer,” Catherine Buell, Amazon’s head of community development, said in a statement. “Housing and transit are the first- and second-largest expenses for most households in America, and Amazon’s funding will expedite affordable housing near transit, reducing costs for both while supporting families with long-term financial stability.”