Microsoft’s Brad Smith on $500M housing pledge: ‘We want our success to support the region’

Microsoft President Brad Smith and CFO Amy Hood. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Microsoft President Brad Smith formally announced the company’s unprecedented $500 million commitment to support affordable housing development in the Seattle region at an event Thursday.

“Every day for 40 years, we at Microsoft have benefited from the support of this community … we want our success to support the region in return,” Smith said during an event formally announcing the pledge, with Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and other Seattle-area leaders.

EARLIER: Microsoft commits $500M to address affordable housing and homelessness in the Seattle region

The Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant said Wednesday night that it will commit $475 million for loans to affordable housing developers over three years and another $25 million to services for low-income and homeless residents. It’s the largest pledge for a social cause in Microsoft’s history.

During an event in Bellevue, Wash. near Microsoft’s headquarters, Smith cited research showing a gap of more than 300,000 affordable homes needed to address the region’s housing crisis. Over the past decade, housing costs have skyrocketed as the tech industry has boomed and Microsoft says it wants to help mitigate that growth.

“The reality is we’re requiring more and more people who are so important to our communities to contemplate living farther and farther away,” Smith said Thursday.

Microsoft partnered with Seattle real estate data company Zillow, to study the housing crisis over the past eight months. They discovered that while housing prices soared, new housing construction and wages lagged behind.

To help address those problems, Microsoft is committing $225 million toward middle-income housing in six cities outside of Seattle and an additional $250 million will go toward low-income housing across the entire King County region. The remaining $25 million will come in the form of grants to homeless service providers.

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