Tech giant Microsoft pledged $500 million in loans and grants on Wednesday 16th January, aimed at ramping up construction of affordable housing in Washington’s Puget Sound area, where the US technology giant has its home.
Microsoft executives Amy Hood and Brad Smith said in a blog post: "In recent years, our region hasn't built enough housing for the people who live here."
"We are committing $500 million as a company to advance affordable housing solutions."
Microsoft moved from New Mexico to the Seattle area city of Bellevue in 1979, when it was only a few years old, and now has its headquarters in nearby Redmond.
Job growth in the region has been 21% since 2011, while housing construction growth has trailed at 13%.
The Seattle area is now the sixth most expensive region in the US, due to the gap in available housing, which has caused house prices to nearly double in the past eight years, according to Hood and Smith.
"The gap between job growth and housing growth has been even greater in the suburban cities around Seattle than in Seattle itself," the blog post said.
"This is a big problem. And it's a problem that is continuing to get worse."
The $500 million will be used to "help kick-start new solutions" to the housing crisis, according to the executives.
Microsoft planned to make $225 million available at below-market rates to subsidize preservation and construction of middle-income housing, initially targeting six cities east of Seattle and Lake Washington.
"Median income in the region hasn't kept pace with rising housing costs, increasingly making it impossible for lower- and middle-income workers to afford to live close to where they work," Hood and Smith said.
"Teachers, nurses, first responders and many in key roles at non-profit businesses and tech companies now begin and end their workdays with long commutes."
A total of $250 million will be available at market rates for low-income housing development, while $25 million will be devoted to philanthropic grants aimed at addressing homelessness, Microsoft said.
"With these and similar investments, it's possible to lend money, accelerate progress, be repaid and then lend this money again," Hood and Smith said.
"Our goal is to move as quickly as possible with targeted investments that will have an outsized impact."
Microsoft is one of Washington State's largest employers.