Amazon HQ2 in Virginia won't cause affordable housing crisis, official says

Officials in Alexandria, Virginia, said Amazon’s plan to build half of its second headquarters in Northern Virginia won’t cause a prolonged spike or lead to an affordable housing crisis such as that experienced in Seattle, according to a report Monday.

Mark Jinks, Alexandria’s city manager, said at a Nov. 19 meeting that the area could see a “short term” increase of 4 to 6 percent in the housing rental market, WTOP reported. That increase would be roughly in line with what the area around the city has experienced in recent years, he added.

“People have looked at Seattle and said that’s what’s going to happen in Northern Virginia, but we’re a different environment,” Jinks said.

Amazon announced earlier this month that it would build half of its “HQ2” in Crystal City, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. The other half of the new headquarters will be built in New York’s Long Island City neighborhood. The e-commerce giant said it will create 25,000 high-paying jobs in Northern Virginia.

Jinks said there are “tens of thousands” of affordable housing units in the area likely to see an influx of Amazon workers, adding that the new employees won’t necessarily live exclusively in Alexandria and Arlington.

Amazon critics in Seattle blame the company’s presence for a massive spike in housing prices in recent years. The high cost of living is a major factor in the city’s ongoing homelessness crisis.

Local officials gave Amazon a package of up to $573 million in performance-based direct incentives. The incentives are tied to Amazon’s pledge to create the 25,000 high-paying jobs.