MacKenzie Scott has donated $436 million to Habitat for Humanity International and 84 of its U.S. affiliates — the largest publicly disclosed donation from the billionaire philanthropist since she pledged in 2019 to give away the majority of her wealth.
“We could not be more excited to get the gift at a time when, in some ways, the state of housing affordability is the worst that it has been in modern times,” Jonathan Reckford, Habitat for Humanity International’s CEO, told The Associated Press. His group received $25 million from Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, with the remaining $411 million to be distributed among Habitat’s local affiliates.
Scott’s donation amounts to nearly 8% of the $325 million in donations that Habitat for Humanity International received in its 2020 fiscal year.
Reckford said Habitat for Humanity will use Scott’s donation of unrestricted funds to increase the supply of affordable housing, especially in communities of color. Although they will approach the issue in different ways, the majority of local affiliates will continue projects within their community, while the international organization will be focusing on advocacy and building homes for working-class families.
“Even before COVID, we already had one in seven families paying over half their income on rent or mortgage,” Reckford said. Many people are now looking to get larger homes in order to survive the current pandemic.
Many first-time buyers were unable to purchase homes due to the high cost of housing in some markets.
“For low- and moderate-income families, who are service workers and did not have adequate shelter and still have to go out to work, this has been a catastrophe,” Reckford said.
Continue reading: MacKenzie Scott Gave Away $6 Billion Last Year. It’s Not As Easy As It Sounds
Forbes estimates Scott’s net worth at $48 billion. Scott has also signed the Giving Pledge. This pledge is where billionaires promise to give more than half of their wealth. Aside from an occasional blog post, Scott, an author and philanthropist, doesn’t discuss her donations, which exceeded $8 billion in the past two years after her divorce from Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, who was then the richest person in the world. As part of the divorce settlement, Scott received 4% of Amazon’s shares.
Scott refused to disclose how much she gave or who she was donating money to in December. This attempt to decrease the attention Scott draws. Scott stated that she prefers to have the recipient announce her gifts. Habitat for Humanity will do so on Tuesday. Last week, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America announced that they and 62 local Boys & Girls Clubs had received $281 million from Scott. The Fortune Society in New York, which helps formerly imprisoned people reintegrate society, received $10 million from Scott on Monday.
Scott has explained in past blogs that she and Jewett had donated $2.7 billion in the first half of 2021 to “equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected.”
Though Habitat for Humanity is best-known as a home-building nonprofit, the group, founded in 1976, says it has been working for many years on behalf of equity, toward “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”
Natosha Reid Rice, Habitat for Humanity International’s global diversity, equity & inclusion officer, said that receiving the donation from Scott this year amounted to a dream fulfilled.
“When we started seeing Ms. Scott’s generosity expressed in a very explicit social-justice- and racial-justice-forward way, there were many of us who were like, ‘Oh, my gosh, if we can get the attention of MacKenzie Scott, that’d be amazing,’ not realizing that she was looking into this space already,” she said. “It was a wonderful surprise.”
Rice said that Scott’s gift will accelerate the timetable on Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to increase Black home ownership and diversify its volunteer base. This will allow the organization to get around the obstacles political and finanziell that hinder racial minorities’ ability to purchase homes.
A National Association of Realtors analysis revealed that U.S. home ownership increased to 65.5% in 2020. Only 72.1% of white Americans are now homeowners. However, only 43.4% Black Americans have homes. This is even less than in 2010. Habitat for Humanity officials say they hope Scott’s gift will help reverse that trend.
“We have a great opportunity to continue to shape a narrative that’s inclusive, that’s diverse, that promotes equity,” Rice said. “And it’s not just the equitable access, because that then allows those families to build equity for generations to come. And that’s a very exciting opportunity for us as an organization.”
Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. This content is the sole responsibility of The Associated Press. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.
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