The Washington Post, November 13, 2018: Northern Virginia property owners are delighted Amazon HQ2 will be moving in. Renters, first time buyers, and low-income residents aren’t
The coming influx of tens of thousands of highly paid tech workers could exacerbate inequality in the Washington region, making it more difficult for renters and first-time home buyers, housing advocates and others warn.
In Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered, city officials in 2015 declared a state of emergency over homelessness as rents skyrocketed and some landlords advertised that they would prioritize Amazon, Microsoft and Google employees over other prospective tenants.
“One of the big lessons in Seattle is that while yes, Amazon created a positive tech boom in the city, it also led to a rise in homelessness, housing unaffordability and such stark inequality that created a lot of political and community distrust,” said Amy Liu, director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.
In Arlington County, community activists worry that without adequate attention and planning to increase the stock of affordable housing, market forces will favor the wealthy once Amazon arrives. Rents will rise. Bidding wars over single-family homes will ensue. Sellers fetching higher home prices will come out ahead, while lower-income families will get pushed out, they predict. Among the winners: real estate agents, landlords, home sellers and investors. Realtors have compared the anticipation of an Amazon arrival to the Super Bowl, with amateur investors caught in the excitement gambling on home prices rising.
North Arlington boasts some of the most expensive communities in the Washington area, with home values averaging upward of $1?million. But neighborhoods in the southern half of the countyhave some of the heaviest concentrations of low- and moderate-income families. More than half of the households in those areas rent rather than own, putting them at high risk of eventually being priced out, said Jesse Van Tol, chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.