Amazon announced on Monday $9 million in donations to Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., area nonprofits. The funds will go toward organizations working to help residents avoid evictions as well as other causes to improve racial equality and support military families and veterans.
The announcement comes on the two-year anniversary of Amazon’s selection of National Landing in Arlington, Virginia, as the site of its second headquarters, its so-called “HQ2.” That 2018 announcement came despite criticism that employees flocking to the area would drive up housing prices and rents.
Around this time last year, the online retail giant celebrated the one-year anniversary of the HQ2 news by donating $20 million to the Arlington County Affordable Housing Investment Fund in order to be able to build a larger headquarters complex than zoning in the county would normally allow.
With the newly allotted donations, Amazon expressed its commitment to investing in the community.
“It’s an understatement to say how proud we are to be part of National Landing,” Brian Huseman, Amazon vice president of public policy, said in a statement. “To mark this milestone, we will donate $9 million to help support a broad range of local community organizations that make up the fabric of the diverse, vibrant region we now call home.”
$3 million of the donation will go to four legal service providers in the area helping area families with housing-related issues; $1 million will go to organizations working to advance racial equality; $1 million will go toward community health facilities; $500,000 will go to groups providing literacy and job training programs to area residents; and $3.5 million will go to organizations supporting small businesses, military families, the environment, the arts, and more.
“This $3 million donation [for legal aid organizations] will quickly provide support to individuals and families who need help,” said Alice Shobe, director of Amazon in the Community. “Tenant rights are a particularly complicated issue right now, and families are facing innumerable challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Jim Ferguson, executive director of Legal Services of Northern Virginia said rising rates of eviction cases have created significant demand for legal aid in the region.
“With the significant increase in eviction cases caused by COVID-19, the number of underrepresented litigants is just getting worse,” Ferguson said in a press statement. “Amazon’s timely and generous support is an emphatic action to reverse that negative trend. We will be able to hire more lawyers, and far fewer low-income families will end up on the street.”