The new jobs are part of a national expansion with 200 employees starting in Seattle by the end of the year.
Seattle has a thriving tech scene. Amazon (AMZN)
is headquartered there along with Microsoft (MSFT)
in nearby Redmond, Washington. Apple (AAPL)
, which already has 500 employees in the city,
now wants to add more engineering and computer science positions.
While cities are eager to attract successful businesses (see the bidding war for Amazon’s so-called HQ2
and its 50,000 well-paying jobs), they can also put stress on regions. The San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle both have massive homelessness and affordable housing problems.
“As Seattle continues to grow, we must act urgently to address the pressures that follow — from tackling affordability to new affordable housing to increasing transit,” Mayor Jenny A. Durkan said in a statement on Monday.
In 2017, more than 21,500 applications were received for only 3,500 places available through a Seattle housing lottery that helps low-income individuals pay their monthly rent in privately-owned residences.
In recent years, Seattle tried to institute a head tax
per employee at companies that generate at least $20 million of their annual revenue in Seattle. The tax was expected to generate $75 million a year, which would’ve been used to build affordable housing and combat homelessness.
Sponsors of the tax bill said the influx of workers who are paid more than existing residents leads to a higher cost of housing, which is a major cause of homelessness. This is exacerbated when building affordable housing isn’t a priority.
The efforts found limited success
but eventually failed
under pressure from companies such as Amazon, which is the largest private sector employer in the city. At the time, an Amazon executive said the company was “apprehensive about the future created” by the bill and that it was being forced to question its growth in Seattle.
Seattle has limited ways of raising money for public works because it’s prohibited from having an income tax under Washington law. It relies on sales taxes, property taxes and a business and occupancy tax.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, major tech companies have launched initiatives to fight the area’s ongoing homelessness. In June, Google
announced a $1 billion donation to help build affordable housing. Facebook
CEO Mark Zuckerberg also recently announced a partnership to create more affordable housing that includes donations from both his company and charitable organization.