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Amazon donates $3 million to support Arlington affordable housing initiatives

By Jonathan Capriel  – Staff Reporter, Washington Business JournalJun 11, 2019, 10:55am EDT

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced Tuesday a $3 million donation to boost Arlington County’s affordable housing efforts.

At the same time it announced the gift to the Arlington Community Foundation, Amazon also said it would make a $5 million donation to Seattle nonprofits to fight homelessness in the e-commerce and web services giant’s hometown.

The money comes several weeks after Holly Sullivan, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide economic development, and Jay Carney, senior vice president for global corporate affairs, said the company was in a position to plan for growth in Greater Washington and avoid the housing issues experienced in Seattle simultaneous with Amazon’s explosive growth there.

Arlington is home to Amazon’s second headquarters, expected to grow to at least 25,000 employees over the next 15 years.

In a statement, Carney said that affordable housing are the real concerns in Seattle and the D.C. area.

“We believe this gift can help offer additional housing and support services for our neighbors in need,” Carney said.

The nonprofit Arlington Community Foundation was established in 1991 as a “permanent community endowment” to meet the county’s most pressing needs. It serves as a sponsor and grantmaker for special initiatives.

Amazon’s arrival has brought the housing issue to top of mind for many. Property values and sales prices have soared since the November HQ2 announcement, while low-income households continue to fear displacement and rising rent.

This “generous investment” comes to the region at a critical moment for the community, said Jennifer Owens, president and CEO of the Arlington Community Foundation.

“Over the last decade, housing prices in our region have steadily increased leading to fewer housing options for all income levels and placing a disproportionate burden on our community’s lowest income residents,” Owens said in a statement.

Amazon’s development partner, JBG Smith Properties (NYSE: JBGS) launched a large affordable housing initiative, collecting some $78 million in investmentsand nearly $13 million in donations, earlier this year with hopes of addressing the “missing middle.” In a statement, Arlington Board Chair Christian Dorsey said he was pleased Amazon would play a role as well.