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To Ease The Seattle Housing Crisis, Microsoft Pledges $500Mn

Smith said he views the fund as an acknowledgment of the economic realities faced by low-salary workers at the company and elsewhere in King County.

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A man lies in a tent with others camped nearby, under and near an overpass in Seattle, Feb. 9, 2016. Microsoft pledged $500 million to address homelessness and develop affordable housing in response to the Seattle region's widening affordability gap. VOA

Microsoft pledged $500 million to address homelessness and develop affordable housing in response to the Seattle region’s widening affordability gap.

Most of the money will be aimed at increasing housing options in the Puget Sound region for low- and middle-income workers at a time when they’re being priced out of Seattle and some of its suburbs, and when the vast majority of new buildings target wealthier renters, said Microsoft President Brad Smith.

The pledge is the largest in the company’s 44-year history, and, according to the company, is one of the heftiest contributions by a private corporation to housing, The Seattle Times reported. In comparison, the amount dwarfs the $100 million in annual funding for Washington state’s Housing Trust Fund.

It’s too early to say exactly how much affordable housing will ultimately result from the $500 million, Microsoft officials said. Smith said the company, based in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, hopes to leverage the fund to help create “tens of thousands of units.”

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Microsoft’s Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer, speaks at the annual Microsoft shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Wash., Nov. 30, 2016. VOA

Funds split three ways

The initiative comes as Microsoft and other tech giants that have driven the region’s economic boom face increasing pressure to help mitigate affordable-housing shortages. Microsoft is coupling its contributions with a call for other companies to step up, and for Seattle’s Eastside suburbs, of which Redmond is one, to facilitate more housing.

The company, which plans a news conference Thursday, will split the funds three ways.

Microsoft will loan $225 million at below-market interest rates to help developers facing high land and construction costs build and preserve “workforce housing” on the Eastside, where the company has 50,000 workers and is planning for more. The developments will be aimed at households making between $62,000 and $124,000 per year.

Secondly, $250 million will go toward market-rate loans for construction of affordable housing across the Puget Sound region for people making up to 60 percent of the local median income ($48,150 for a two-person household). The remaining $25 million will be donated to services for the region’s low-income and homeless residents.

Typhus, seattle
A homeless man sits at his street-side tent along Interstate 110 along downtown Los Angeles’ skyline, May 10, 2018. Thousands of homeless people sleep on the streets of Los Angeles County.. VOA

Acknowledging the reality

Smith said he views the fund as an acknowledgment of the economic realities faced by low-salary workers at the company and elsewhere in King County.

Also Read: The Plight of India’s Homeless Women Increases As Cities Expand

“At some level we as a region are going to need to either say there are certain areas where we’re comfortable having more people live, or we just want permanently to force the people who are going to teach our kids in schools, and put out the fires in our houses and keep us alive in the hospital, to spend four hours every day getting to and from work,” he said. “That is not, in our view, the best outcome for the community.” (VOA)

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Microsoft Comes Together with Kano to Introduce Tablet for Kids to Assemble with Help of Storybook

The PC also comes with an app called “How Computers Work” to give them a primer in the making of the machine

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Microsoft, Taiwan AI
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

Software giant Microsoft has come together with London-based tech company Kano to introduce an 11.6-inch touch-enabled tablet designed for kids to assemble with the help of a storybook.

The Kano PC is available for pre-order at $300 and 300 euros on Kano’s website and the Microsoft Store in the US and UK on October 21.

The computer appears to have a keyboard cover similar to those in the Microsoft Surface series and is preloaded with Windows 10 in S mode as well as programmes such as Minecraft: Education Edition, CNET reported on Thursday.

The S mode in Windows 10 is streamlined for security and performance, while providing a familiar Windows experience.

A Child Using Tablet. VOA

The kid-friendly PC includes 4GB RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage, expandable through a microSD card, two USB ports, an HDMI port and a headphone jack.

The PC also comes with an app called “How Computers Work” to give them a primer in the making of the machine.

Also Read- Huawei Positive About Future After Winning Key 5G Deals: Report

Kano has a number of kid-friendly computer and coding kits already, which have previously included a Harry Potter-themed coding kit with wand and a computer Running on a Kano operating system (OS). (IANS)