To tackle the problem of homelessness in the city, the Seattle city council has plans to increase taxes on big businesses and in talks to put this to an initial vote on Friday. The reform, if it goes through, will be a watershed moment for the people of the city and will force its largest employer, Amazon, to find headquarters elsewhere.
The ecommerce giant recently leased additional space in the city and was planning to construct an office in the north end of the city. But the notion of the city council approving the reform which would raise taxes by $75 million annually is something that Amazon is not prepared to entertain which is why they have halted the construction plans and are willing to let go of the space they leased.
While several other companies in the city like Starbucks disapprove of the change, Amazon’s reaction to it is by far the strongest with the company looking for its 2nd headquarters in another city. 20 cities have made it to the final list and the people in charge of these cities are trying their best to make their city beat the rest, as the move is expected to create 50,000 jobs.
Seattle has been going through a homelessness epidemic for quite some time now with emergency being declared over this in 2015 itself. The once dormant city has now become an extended part of Silicon Valley, thanks to the growth of Giants like Microsoft, Google and Amazon amongst others. This has led to lack of affordable housing for the people especially students who are becoming homeless at an alarming rate and people are spending more than half their income on housing.
Kshama Sawant, a city council member, not only expresses her concern for the problem but also deep anger towards Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos, calling him a bully. She cautioned leaders eyeing the company’s arrival to their cities and told them that the shift may cause problems like this later down the road.