Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) keeps expanding its horizons and the number of pies it has its finger in.
The e-commerce giant has announced it was establishing a $2 billion fund to build over 20,000 affordable housing units in the Puget Sound region of Washington state; Arlington, Virginia; and Nashville, Tennessee.
Called the Housing Equity Fund, Amazon says the program will provide below-market capital to "housing partners, traditional and non-traditional public agencies, and minority-led organizations" in the form of loans, lines of credit, and grants.
The initial communities Amazon chose for investment hold significance for the company because its regional headquarters are located in each. It expects to employ at least 5,000 workers in each location in the coming years.
The first tranche of assistance will be for more than $567 million near Amazon's new Arlington offices, where as many as 1,300 affordable apartment homes will be created. Another 1,000 units will be built near its Seattle headquarters.
According to the announcement, Amazon is targeting households making between 30% and 80% of an area's median income, so for the Washington, D.C., metro area, households of four earning less than $79,600 a year would qualify, as would those earning less than $95,250 in the Seattle area.
The program is an outgrowth of initiatives Amazon has already undertaken, such as donating more than $19 million to support those facing eviction due to the pandemic in the D.C. area; more than $100 million to Mary's Place, a Seattle nonprofit focused on fighting family homelessness; and $2.25 million given to The Housing Fund nonprofit in Nashville.
At the onset of the pandemic, Amazon initiated several programs centered around its Seattle headquarters, such as delivering coronavirus testing kits for free and launching a $5 million small-business loan fund.