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Amazon crushed affordable housing. Now it’s trying to offset the problem it helped create

The November 2018 announcement that Amazon would be siting HQ2, its second headquarters, in Arlington, Virginia, triggered some not-unexpected anxiety about the company’s impact on the local housing market. The projected influx of around 25,000 employees (and their salaries) from one of the world’s biggest companies is pushing prices and demand to new heights.

Within a year of Arlington’s selection, median home prices in HQ2’s Crystal City neighborhood had jumped more than 50%. More than two years and one pandemic after the announcement, the market has cooled a bit, but prices are still high and inventory is tight. As HQ2’s buildings complete construction and Amazon becomes a dominant presence in Arlington over the next few years, housing is likely to become even more scarce.

And that’s just for housing that sells or rents at market rates. For people with lower incomes, affordable housing is under extreme threat as the area’s fortunes rise. To try to counteract pressure on the housing market, Amazon has taken the unusual step of financing the purchase of a market-rate apartment complex next to HQ2 that will be preserved for 99 years as affordable housing.

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