Microsoft’s $500 Million Affordable Housing Approach

By CultureBanx Team

  • Microsoft pledges $500M to Seattle’s affordable housing crisis

  • The black homeless rate in Seattle’s King County is 29.2%

Microsoft (MSFT +0.91%) is trying to build a more inclusive Seattle with a $500 million cash injection into the city’s affordable housing projects. The tech giant created a $475 million trust fund to support the creation of middle-income housing, along with a $25 million donation to address homelessness. In a city that’s home to two of the largest tech companies, Amazon (AMZN +0.95%) and Microsoft, can a society that values private profits more than public welfare, ever truly address the problems of its own making?

San Francisco Homeless Camp.jpg

Why This Matters: Since Microsoft has committed such a small portion of the money to addressing homelessness it will be hard to move the needle. A point-in-time count last year tallied more than 11,600 homeless people in King County which is the area of Seattle where Microsoft is located. Black people represent 6.2% of King County’s population and have the highest homeless rate at 29.2%. These figures are a 23% over representation for African Americans in Seattle’s homeless sector, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s American Community Survey.

Some could argue the $500 million commitment is merely a selling point for future employee recruitment

The $25 million in grants to service low-income and homeless residents in Seattle is merely a drop in the bucket for the software company. To further put this in into perspective for you, the company’s plan represents just 2.7% of its annual net income. Not to mention in the past decade they have made $184 billion in net income. It could also be viewed as a one-time 31% increase in the company’s advertising budget.

Microsoft’s loan arrangement allows them to keep reinvesting the funds in other projects. Since they are planning on expanding their headquarters in the Seattle area, adding 8,000 employees that will need places to live, this could be a lucrative plan for the company. However, some could argue the $500 million commitment is merely a selling point for future employee recruitment.

What’s Next: Seattle’s Eastside suburbs which is near the the company’s main campus in Redmond, will be the primary focus of its affordable housing push. Microsoft plans to disburse these funds over the next three  years.

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