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Seattleite Speaks on Microsoft's Housing Move

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Seattleite Speaks on Microsoft's Housing Move


January 23, 2019
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Photo: Unsplash/Tadas Sar

Microsoft recently made headlines with its announcement of $500 million to fund affordable housing in Seattle, but resident and City Council candidate Shaun Scott asks, "Why are we relying on tech overlords?"

Writing for The Guardian, Scott says that while the investment "should not be understated," and potentially offers "a real material difference for Seattle’s houseless, housing insecure, and rent-burdened populations," there are some "cavities" when looking Microsoft's gift horse in the mouth. One point raised by Scott is that $475 million of the investment are not donations, rather they are market-rate loans that affordable housing providers and government agencies will need to pay back. As well, as Washington State has no income tax, it has been unable to raise $500 million or more over time to put toward affordable housing

Like many major metropolitan areas, Seattle is currently mired in what writer and housing activist Laura Bernstein has described as “a dual crisis of climate and affordability”. A lack of affordable housing near industry has led to carbon-intensive sprawl – think of all those commuting cars – and economic distress among Seattleites. So, last Wednesday, when Microsoft announced a plan to dedicate $500m towards alleviating the affordable housing crisis in the area, one might have been forgiven for thinking it was an entirely good thing.

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