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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.

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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 Preparing to Launch 15-inch Surface Laptop 3

Surface earbuds is also expected to launch, as well as new keyboards with a dedicated Office button taking the place of the right-hand Windows key

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FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

Microsoft may launch a 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 next month alongside a 13.5-inch model, which is the same screen size as the Surface Laptop 2”s.

The company is also expected to launch an AMD-powered Surface Laptop 3 and it is possible that this chip could be found on this rumoured 15-inch model, The Verge reported on Sunday.

As per the report, Microsoft will still offer a screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, as it did on the 13.5-inch Surface Laptop.

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

In addition, the larger 15-inch model will likely support the Surface Pen as well.

Also Read: Realme 3i: Impressive Look in a Budget Smartphone (Tech Review)

The company is rumoured to launch dual-screen Surface device, codenamed Centaurus. In addition to the Centaurus, Microsoft would bring Surface Laptop 3, Surface Pro 7 and Surface Book 3 in October.

Surface earbuds is also expected to launch, as well as new keyboards with a dedicated Office button taking the place of the right-hand Windows key. (IANS)