A good day and a step forward for our region: Microsoft invests $500 million to address housing and homelessness in the Puget Sound

As a region, the crisis of affordability, housing, and homelessness is the central challenge we face. It’s a crisis that threatens the soul of our city. It’s a crisis that is bigger than Seattle, and demands a regional response. It is just not sustainable to have a region where people cannot live where they work.

If we want a region based on justice and equity, we need to address this challenge.

So Seattle is doing its part to address the crisis:

  • Together with our partners, we have invested over $710 million in affordable housing with our partners over the past two years.  Because of those bold investments, we are on track to bring 4,000 new affordable homes online by 2022.
  • To help prevent households from falling into homelessness, in April 2018, we launched the Seattle Rental Housing Assistance Program to help prevent people from becoming homeless.
  • In 2018, the City delivered the largest increase in shelter capacity in the history of our City, increasing our shelter capacity by 25%, and we’re partnering closely with the County on their major shelter expansion that will add 100 additional shelter units.
  • In 2018, we helped more than 5,700 households exit homelessness to permanent housing, or maintain permanent housing – far outpacing what we did in 2017.

But at the end of the day, we know it’s not enough, and we Seattle can’t go it alone. The challenges of affordability, housing, and homelessness don’t stop at the city limits.

That’s one reason King County Executive Dow Constantine and I have worked with stakeholders across our region to move ahead on one consolidated system in King County with shared governance, authority, and resources to address our homelessness crisis. We have an opportunity to turn our fractured approach to preventing and addressing homelessness into a much more unified and impactful one.

We also know that government can’t find the solution alone. I’ve long said and deeply believe, that truly addressing this challenge will take everyone at the table: Government, business, service providers, people with lived experience, and more.

That’s why I am so thrilled that Microsoft is helping our region take a big step forward in addressing the crisis. This morning, I was in the audience as Microsoft’s President Brad Smith laid out Microsoft’s broad vision for the path forward and announced that the company is committing $500 million to advance affordable housing solutions in the region and support the City of Seattle’s work with King County to build a more unified, effective system to address homelessness.

I am especially grateful for their $5 million contribution that will support our ongoing work with King County to lay the foundation for our shared system of governance that will usher in a new era in our region’s approach to the crisis of homelessness.

I hope you can take a minute to read about their vision and generous investment here.

We need everyone to come together to help solve this challenge including members of the business community, philanthropy, and our leaders in Olympia. Our state must do more to give our region additional resources and flexibility to build more affordable and middle-income housing.

On this good day for our region, we must also recommit to all being part of the solution and to creating a more affordable, just future for all and continue to come together to create new solutions to build housing for our workers, teachers, firefighters, and police.

We know that history is not written by the challenges we face. It is written by how we respond to those challenges and by the vision of the leaders who stand up to set us down on a better path.

Today is one of those days where we saw that vision put into action.