Bloomberg Businessweek January 20, 2020 pp16-18 by Jeff Muskus and David Rocks “A Housing Start for Microsoft”
“A booming economy has led to a housing shortage...squeezing everybody whose wages couldn’t match Microsoft-level salaries”-think teachers, police, nurses and firefighters. Because higher housing costs lead to longer commutes and lower quality of life, techology companies and others are struggling with recruiting. Microsoft and now Apple, Facebook and Google are getting involved by infusing cash and effort into catalyzing more meaningful solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Seattle and the Bay Area respectively. Making more affordable apartments available is challenging as government agencies, even with receiving corporate support, are competing with developers that are loath to bring new solutions while profiting from refurbishing or building new units. Revitalizing an apartment costs $300,000 or more while new construction ranges upward from $400,000. Working with housing authorities, the hope is to keep rent increases comparable to cost-of-living-adjustments of about 3% versus 5-8% on the open market. Deeper relief requires better policy and action at the local and federal level. Besides some funding, there is another, better and more impactful way, companies like Microsoft can help by collaborating and supporting affordable housing initiatives-helping the fight against "not-in-my-neighborhood" attitudes and pushing local, state and federal government to align policy and procedures favoring faster and more signicant change.