Affordable housing campaign raises $48.8M from Microsoft, Amazon, Ballmers

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Affordable Housing Post

A new campaign to build affordable housing for Seattle residents experiencing homelessness received a big boost from the tech industry.

Microsoft, Amazon, Steve and Connie Ballmer, and other organizations in the region each donated $5 million to a new affordable housing fund announced Tuesday by Plymouth Housing. The campaign quietly raised $48.8 million over the past few weeks to build five new affordable housing buildings over the next four years.

“A few weeks ago I could never have imagined that we would be reading that number today,” said Plymouth Housing CEO Paul Lambros during the event.

Related: Amazon donates $8M for affordable housing in ‘HQ regions,’ launches employee matching program
Plymouth Housing is a non-profit that operates permanent supportive residences for individuals struggling with homelessness or other challenges that make it difficult to secure housing. The organization officially launched the new PROOF Campaign on Tuesday at an event in Seattle.

Seattle has been grappling with a homelessness crisis for years, driven by the booming tech industry, an influx of newcomers, and skyrocketing housing costs.

Microsoft Philanthropies lead Mary Snapp spoke at the event to an audience that included leaders from the business community, like Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky and Seattle Metro Chamber CEO Marilyn Strickland.

Microsoft Philanthropies’ Mary Snapp, Plymouth Housing CEO Paul Lambros, and Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)
Microsoft’s donation is the first grant awarded as part of the company’s new $500 million fund to spur low- and middle-income housing development and combat homelessness its hometown.

“We hope to move as quickly as we can with this and we’re now accepting applications for funding,” Snapp said during the event.

In addition to the $5 million Seattle commitment, Amazon is contributing $3 million to increase access to affordable housing in Arlington, Va., where the company is building a second headquarters.

“We’re very interested in being a good neighbor in Seattle and other communities we’re in,” Olsavsky told reporters following the event.

Long-term, Plymouth’s goal is to raise $75 million and build eight buildings with 800 units as part of the PROOF campaign. The first five buildings will be in Seattle’s International District, Lower Queen Anne, First Hill, Central District, and a to-be-determined location.

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