The company will offer $225 million in low-priced loans to subsidize the preservation and construction of middle-income or "work force" housing in six cities - Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Sammamish and Renton - where the company has more than 50,000 employees.
Grants aside, Microsoft is expecting "lower than market rate returns" on the money it is investing.
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Rather than call for an increase in salary for those key non-tech workers (asking if a nurse might be worth a bit more than the individual who inflicted Clippy on the world is not on the table), Microsoft instead plans to "advance affordable housing solutions" and put serious cash where its mouth is.
"The housing situation in the Puget Sound region has reached a point where it's appropriate to use the word 'crisis, '" said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft.
As housing prices rose, so too did rents, and Seattleites told of being forced to move outside the city - and in some cases onto the streets. The Seattle area has long seen rocketing housing prices due to the demand from high-paid employees from Microsoft and Amazon, which are both headquartered in the area.
The majority of the funds ($250 million) will go toward market-rate loans to build low-income housing in the King County region, which encompasses the Seattle metropolitan area. The remaining $25 million will be used to fund programs that address homelessness, including a $5 million effort between Seattle and King County, and another $5 million to a United Way program that will offer legal representation and other information to help prevent homelessness.
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At the same time, home prices in the area have skyrocketed, almost doubling in the past eight years, according to the Times.
The company knows it can't just throw money at the problem to make it go away, though - it's not even entirely sure how much $500 million can help.
Recently, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff threw his support behind a proposition to tax big tech companies to help alleviate homelessness in San Francisco.
Microsoft urged the state to double the $100 million budget for its Housing Trust Fund, which provides grants to developers of low-income housing. Amazon's main offices, in contrast, are near downtown and the company sparked outrage a year ago for opposing a city tax on large employers that would have raised funds to tackle homelessness.
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