Impact Series

Bezos’ Day 1 Households Fund awards $96M in grants to 32 organizations serving to homeless households

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, right, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee tour Mary’s Place Family Center, located in an Amazon building in Seattle. (Lucas Jackson Photo via Amazon)

Jeff Bezos’ Day 1 Families Fund on Wednesday announced the latest round of grantees who are working to help U.S. families experiencing homelessness. The fund is issuing $96.2 million to 32 organizations.

The Amazon founder has given out $398 million to organizations in 38 states since launching the fund in 2018.

The national homelessness crisis has grown significantly in recent years, and the greater Seattle area has large numbers of unsheltered residents. Some 11,751 people in Seattle and surrounding King County were experiencing homelessness during a 2020 survey. A study spanning 2016-2020 found that chronic homelessness had increased at an annual rate of 27% statewide and 42% in Seattle-King County.

The Day 1 Families Fund grantees include multiple California-based organizations and two from the Pacific Northwest:

  • $5 million for Building Changes and Africatown International, Seattle
  • $2.5 million for Portland Homeless Family Solutions, Portland

“These grants will provide support including housing, food, clothing and other resources to help families get back on their feet,” Bezos said in an Instagram post announcing the news.

The post included a video of Bezos’ girlfriend Lauren Sanchez talking with some of the funding recipients about the importance of the grants.

The Day 1 Families Fund is part of the two-pronged, $2 billion “Bezos Day One Fund” that has a separate track focused on developing Montessori-inspired preschool education. While the homelessness-related fund has publicly issued four rounds of grants, little has been said about the schools program.

Bezos’ net worth since launching his fund has increased from $160 billion to more than $200 billion today, according to Forbes.

Experts in philanthropy have praised Bezos for addressing the homelessness issue, which is often neglected by wealthy donors and for funneling support into existing efforts rather than creating his own programs and solutions.

While CEO of Amazon, Bezos established a strong relationship with Mary’s Place, a Seattle nonprofit that works with women and families experiencing homelessness. One of Amazon’s new office buildings was constructed to include a shelter run by Mary’s Place.

Amazon has, however, battled with the city of Seattle over attempts to tax the tech giant and other wealthy companies to pay for affordable housing — though it did support a statewide measure that followed. The cost of housing in the region has continued to climb during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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