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BDA Member Microsoft Commits $500m to Tackle the Affordable Housing Crisis

January 29, 2019 - by Matt Jack

Category What's Happening

Microsoft announced recently that it is committing $500 million to advance affordable housing solutions. Its objective is to “move as quickly as possible with targeted investments that will have an outsized impact.” The funding will be invested through three approaches to accelerate construction of more affordable housing across the region. 

  1. $225 million at lower than market rate returns to inject capital to subsidize the preservation and construction of middle-income housing. Bellevue is one of six Eastside cities that’ll receive funding.
  2. $250 million at market rate returns to support low-income housing across the entire King County region.
  3. $25 million in philanthropic grants to address homelessness in the greater Seattle region.

Microsoft’s message included a call to action, encouraging individuals, business, and the state legislature to contribute to the cause. The Mayors of Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Renton, Sammamish, Auburn, Kent and Federal Way are pledging to take vital and concrete steps to address the issue.

The City of Bellevue has dramatically increased its efforts and dedicated resources to address the affordable housing issue. Council adopted an Affordable Housing Strategy in 2017, and the City budget adopted last December added $11.5m to its Affordable Housing Contingency. Funding to support housing initiates has quadrupled since the City’s previous budget. 

The Bellevue Downtown Association is tracking the housing issue and advocating policy changes to encourage development of more affordable units. The multi-family tax exemption in Downtown Bellevue was updated in 2018 and the Downtown Land Use Code update in 2016 included a floor area ratio (FAR) incentive for including affordable housing.

Are you a BDA member interested in participating in land use advocacy work? Contact Matt Jack, BDA Policy Manager to be added to the Land Use & Livability Committee distribution list.