For the last two years, noted philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott has shown considerable generosity to Houston-area nonprofits — with tens of millions going to groups in need.
Now, Scott — who is also well known as the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — has gifted a whopping $436 million to Habitat for Humanity International and 83 of its U.S. Habitat affiliate organizations. With that donation, Houston Habitat for Humanity has received the sizable amount of $11 million, the organization announced.
“Houston Habitat is honored to receive this tremendous gift, which will increase our capacity to serve Houston and further our vision for Harris County, said Allison Hay, executive director for Houston Habitat for Humanity, in a statement. “Ms. Scott’s donation highlights the need to devote substantial resources towards addressing the affordable housing crisis occurring in Houston and nationwide. We are dedicated to using this gift to serve more Houstonians, build more homes, make more repairs, and, ultimately, create a marked change for affordable housing in our city.”
Towards that end, Houston Habitat has served more than 7,000 Houstonians since its founding in 1987. Work has come mainly through new homeownership and home repair, the organization notes; some 800 homes have been repaired and 1,150 new homes have been built to date.
Programs also help address the homeownership gap for people of color. More than 90 percent of Houston Habitat homeowners are African American and Hispanic, as are the neighborhoods in which the organization works, per press materials.
Scott’s gift comes at a crucial time for Houston, the organization adds, noting a “critical and growing shortage of affordable housing” in the Greater Houston area. Research from the Kinder Institute of Urban Research points to Harris County’s shrinking number of affordable housing units.
Meanwhile, the rise in median home prices has created lower home ownership rates, especially for people of color. Kinder research notes that since 2010, homeownership rates have fallen for Black households in Harris County from 41 percent to 37 percent in 2018 and from 50 percent to 49 percent for Hispanic households.
“Habitat works to break down barriers and bring people together — to tear down obstacles and build a world where everyone, no matter who we are or where we come from, has a decent place to live,” Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford said of the $436 million donation in a statement. “This incredible gift helps make that work possible.”
In December 2020, Scott donated $50 million to Prairie View A&M University and in 2021, she gifted millions to charity groups across the city and state. Last year, Forbes named her the World’s Most Powerful Woman.
“I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” Scott wrote in 2019 when she promised to give away at least half her wealth to charitable causes. “I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”