MacKenzie Scott Donates Largest Amount Ever to Habitat for Humanity

MacKenzie Scott has donated $436 million to Habitat for Humanity International and 84 of its U.S. affiliates — the billionaire philanthropist’s largest public donation since she pledged in 2019 to donate the majority of her wealth .

“We couldn’t be more excited to receive this gift at a time when, in some ways, the state of housing affordability is the worst it has been in modern times,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, to The Associated Press. . His group received $25 million from Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, with the remaining $411 million to be split among local Habitat affiliates.

Scott’s donation amounts to nearly 8% of the $325 million in donations Habitat for Humanity International received in its fiscal year 2020.

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 approach the problem in different ways, most local affiliates will pursue projects in their communities, while the international group will focus on broader advocacy and efforts to build homes for working class families.

“Even before COVID, we already had one in seven families paying more than half of their income in rent or mortgages,” Reckford said. The past two years have made this problem even worse, with many people looking to buy bigger homes to ride out the pandemic.

Housing scarcity has driven prices up in many markets across the country, putting homes out of reach for many first-time buyers.

“For low- and middle-income families, who are service workers and didn’t have adequate housing and still have to go to work, it’s been a disaster,” Reckford said.

Read more: MacKenzie Scott gave $6 billion last year. It’s not as easy as it looks

Scott, who is worth around $48 billion according to Forbes, signed the Giving Pledge, through which many billionaires pledged to donate more than half of their wealth. Aside from an occasional blog post, Scott, an author and philanthropist, doesn’t talk about his giving, which topped $8 billion in the past two years after his divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who was then the richest person in the world. . As part of the divorce settlement, Scott received 4% of Amazon’s stock.

In December, hoping she would lessen the attention she is getting, Scott declined to announce how much or who she had donated the money to. She said she would prefer to let recipients announce their donations, as Habitat for Humanity is expected to do on Tuesday. Last week, Boys & Girls Clubs of America announced that they and 62 local Boys & Girls Clubs had received $281 million from Scott. On Monday, The Fortune Society, a New York-based group that helps formerly incarcerated people reintegrate into society, announced that Scott had donated $10 million to them.

Scott has explained in previous blogs that she and Jewett donated $2.7 billion in the first half of 2021 to “equity-focused nonprofit teams working in areas that have been overlooked.”

Although Habitat for Humanity is best known as a home-building nonprofit, the group, founded in 1976, says it has worked for many years in the name of equity, toward “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Natosha Reid Rice, global head of diversity, equity and inclusion for Habitat for Humanity International, said receiving Scott’s donation this year was like a dream come true.

“When we started to see Mrs. Scott’s generosity expressed in a very explicit way for social justice and racial justice, many of us were like, ‘Oh my God, if we can attract the MacKenzie Scott’s attention would be amazing, “not realizing she was already staring into that space,” she said. “It was a wonderful surprise.”

Rice said Scott’s donation will accelerate the timeline of Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to increase black homeownership and diversify its volunteer base. It will also help the group overcome political and financial barriers that prevent racial minorities from buying homes.

According to analysis released by the National Association of Realtors last month, home ownership in the United States soared to 65.5% in 2020, with 72.1% of white Americans now owning their homes. Yet only 43.4% of black Americans own a home, an even lower proportion than in 2010. Habitat for Humanity officials say they hope Scott’s donation will help reverse that trend.

“We have a great opportunity to continue to shape an inclusive, diverse narrative that promotes equity,” Rice said. “And it’s not just fair access, because then it allows those families to accumulate equity for generations to come. And it’s a very exciting opportunity for us as an organization.

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The Associated Press’s coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits is supported by the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

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