Sep 26, 2022

Amazon recently announced a commitment of $147 million to create and preserve 1,260 affordable housing units in six of Washington, D.C.’s eight wards and nearby Maryland and Virginia communities – primarily in partnership with minority-led organizations.

This is the latest commitment from Amazon’s more than $2 billion Housing Equity Fund, which aims to combat affordable housing challenges and promote equity and inclusion in the communities the company calls home, including Washington state’s Puget Sound region, the Arlington, Va. and Washington, D.C. area and Nashville, Tenn.

This announcement brings Amazon’s total commitment to helping create or preserve affordable housing in Washington, D.C. to $992 million. The money supports over 6,200 affordable homes. This total includes Amazon’s marquee investment in Crystal House, which is over and above the $2 billion commitment, its $125 million transit commitment with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and Amazon’s Real Estate Developers of Color Accelerator Programinvestments. Of this total, $696 million will be used to create or preserve nearly 3,600 units of affordable housing in partnership with minority-led organizations.

“We’re proud to work with a diverse set of experienced partners to create and preserve much-needed affordable homes that help keep long-term residents in the community while bolstering our diverse and historic neighborhoods,” said Catherine Buell, director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund. “By working with these diverse development organizations, we can create long-lasting and inclusive affordable housing closer to public transit and other amenities that will improve quality of life for residents while helping ensure families across Washington D.C. are not displaced from their communities.”

Since launching in January 2021, the Amazon Housing Equity Fund has increased the long-term committed multifamily affordable housing stock in Arlington by 22 percent (based on data provided by Arlington County). These newly announced projects will build on this success and increase access to affordable housing throughout Washington, D.C.

“Working with minority real estate professionals in this way is impactful community development at its core,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Amazon has taken the long view by standing with its partners and eliminating a significant barrier to entry for many real estate developers of color, access to capital. The Amazon Housing Equity Fund has empowered developers in the greater Washington, D.C. area to expand opportunities for our neighbors through job creation and community revitalization.”

This announcement aligns with Mayor Bowser’s goal of creating 36,000 new housing units, a third of which will be affordable, by 2025. Each of these commitments will ensure the long-term preservation of affordability (generally 99 years, with limited exception) and makes housing available to individuals and families earning 30-80   percent of the area median income (AMI). Today’s announcement showcases partnerships with the following organizations:

The Congress Heights Apartments in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Ward 8, will include the construction of 179 new affordable units for households earning between 30 percent and 80 percent AMI.  The Apartments will be developed by the National Housing Trust (NHT), which works to ensure that privately owned rental housing remains in the affordable housing stock using the tools of real estate development, rehabilitation, finance, and advocacy – all with sustainability in mind.

Carver Terrace Apartments, located in the Carver Langston neighborhood of Ward 5, will include the preservation of 320 affordable units for households earning between 30 and 60 percent AMI.  These apartments will be preserved by Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners, a leading owner, and developer of mixed-use properties and attainable housing.

The Residences at Benning Road will be the second most affordable assisted-living community in Ward 7. This transit-oriented development, located at the former site of an Industrial Bank Branch (one of the first Black-owned banks in the region), will create 156 new affordable apartments for households at 60   percent AMI within one block of the Benning Road Metro station.  The Residences will be developed by Gragg Cardona Partners, a company that has been working for over two decades on revitalizing D.C.-area neighborhoods by using public/private partnerships to bring about new investments in housing, commercial space, and community facilities.

4111 Kansas Ave NW, a newly constructed residential building, originally designed as condominiums, to create 40 new affordable units for households earning between 50 to 80 percent AMI in Ward 4. With Amazon’s support, the property was purchased by So Others Might Eat (SOME), a nonprofit with comprehensive programs that are designed to help neighbors experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty find pathways out of poverty and achieve long-term stability and success.

A newly constructed apartment building in Ward 4 will include 102 affordable units for households earning between 60 to 80 percent AMI and will feature the preservation of two historic homes. The property is located across the street from the Takoma Metro station. SGA Companies is a full-service firm specializing in transit-oriented, multifamily residential, and mixed-use retail properties in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

S Street Village will be a new development with 90 units of affordable housing at 60   percent AMI in Ward 1. The site will be developed by Manna, Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing consultancy and developer committed to helping low-income and moderate-income persons acquire affordable, quality housing across Washington, D.C.,

The Mount Pleasant Preservation Project will consist of the preservation of Richman Towers, Sarbin Towers, and Park Marconi in the Mount Pleasant community in Ward 1.  The Project will convert 165 apartment homes into affordable homes for households earning between 40 percent and 80 percent AMI. Jubilee Housing is a nonprofit housing developer focused on creating affordable homes with onsite and nearby services in thriving communities.

Holmead Place Apartments consists of 100 homes in Ward 1, all of which will be converted into affordable, accessible residential units for households earning between 30   percent-80   percent AMI.  Wesley Housing provides safe, quality, and affordable housing across the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

In addition to these projects in Washington, D.C., Amazon is providing funding to the following developers to create additional affordable housing in Maryland and Virginia:

A. Wash and Associates and Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures (NREUV), are both Black-led real estate development organizations with deep ties to the Washington, D.C. area.  They are collaborating on 210 on the Park, which will be a newly constructed development containing 130 affordable units for households earning between 70   percent-80   percent AMI. The apartment complex is located a short distance from the Capitol Heights Metro station in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and includes retail space that will offer discounted rates for local and minority businesses.

Montgomery Housing Partnership (MHP) is a non-profit organization serving the residents of Montgomery County, Md., and neighboring communities. The organization is committed to housing people, empowering families, and strengthening neighborhoods. Since 1989, MHP’s mission has been to preserve and expand access to quality, affordable housing. MHP is developing Nebel Street, which will be a new construction development containing 163 affordable homes for households earning between 30   percent-80   percent AMI.

Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services’ mission is to reduce homelessness, increase community support, and promote self-sufficiency. Good Shepherd Housing has served the housing needs of Northern Virginia families and individuals for more than 40 years. They are acquiring 18 homes in the Colchester Towne Condominiums and will preserve these at 50   percent AMI in Alexandria, Virginia.

With today’s announcement, the Amazon Housing Equity Fund has committed to creating or preserving more than 10,000 affordable homes across the company’s hometown communities so far.  Amazon’s commitment focuses on low-to-moderate income individuals and families, representing first responders, teachers, and service industry employees whose wages haven’t kept pace with escalating rents.

Originally printed by AFRO News.