Communities and Experts Raise Alarm on Amazon’s Backroom Process, Demands for Tax Giveaways, and HQ2’s Impact on Rising Housing Costs and Infrastructure
“HQ2 and the accompanying tax breaks that cities are offering Amazon will raise housing prices, displace current area residents… and worsen income inequality across these metro areas.”
Washington -- In response to Amazon’s announcement that it has decided to split its second headquarters (“HQ2”) between two locations, Crystal City, Virginia, and Long Island City, New York, a coalition representing local and national community, housing, labor, small business, faith and environmental groups today issued this statement and individual comments:
“Amazon’s announcement presents an urgent need for communities of color in and around the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, and Long Island City, New York, to insist that local governments do not give the unaccountable, wealthy corporation subsidies and tax breaks, and to demand instead a new model of development that spreads equity and prosperity so working families can live full and healthy lives.
“Since the $1 trillion company announced its HQ2 search last fall, people have been speaking out to demand that Amazon commit to transparency and negotiate with local communities over the terms of the corporation’s new headquarters. Instead, Amazon has demanded extreme secrecy from cities and states.
“Workers of color, immigrant families, women, and millennials who need good jobs and livable wages in the DC and NYC metropolitan areas surrounding Crystal City and Long Island City already face intense housing crises. Nearly one-third of residents in Washington DC, and more than 40 percent of New Yorkers are already paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing -- the federal government’s standard for being considered “housing-burdened.” Washington, DC, has the highest rate of homelessness in the country, with New York City close behind. Long Island City already has the highest-priced rent in Queens with a median rent of just under $3,000 a month and the median condo costs $900,000. Because the the average Amazon worker will make more $100,ooo annually compared to about $70,000 for LIC residents, housing prices will likely go up.
“Tax and economic development experts conclude that HQ2 and the accompanying tax breaks that cities are offering Amazon will raise housing prices, displace current area residents, strain schools and transportation infrastructure, and drain public budgets in cities where services are already underfunded.
“Amazon claims it will bring thousands of new jobs to the two locations, but has made no commitments to ensure a significant number of jobs will go to locals. This raises concerns that the new headquarters will only bring newcomers, displace long-term communities and worsen income inequality across these metro areas.
“Amazon’s last-minute announcement that it will split the second headquarters between two cities-- after using the promise of 50,000 jobs to extract data and subsidy offers from over 230 cities across the country-- is the latest indicator that Amazon will will not be a trustworthy partner for communities in Queens and Arlington.