Durham habitat receives $4.5m in transformational gift from Mackenzie Scott
Durham Habitat, Orange Habitat and Habitat for Humanity International, along with 82 other U.S. Habitat affiliate organizations, recently received $436 million in unrestricted giving from American author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Collectively, the two Triangle affiliates received $9.5 million dollars in funding, providing a remarkable investment that will serve to accelerate their locally-based affordable homeownership programs.
This transformational donation will substantially help further Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has equitable access to a safe, decent and affordable place to call home. Affiliate leadership and boards of directors are assessing how to best steward this generous gift. The money will advance the strategic priorities of each organization including advancing racial equity through homeownership. Of the funds, Durham Habitat received $4.5 million and Orange Habitat received $5 million unrestricted funds.
This gift comes in the midst of an ambitious building project in East Durham, a partnership with the City of Durham and the Durham Housing Authority, as well as ongoing urgent home repair projects throughout Durham. The funding will provide critical resources for long-term future expansion in an environment where land costs are on the rise, affordable housing is in short supply, and demand for Habitat’s services have never been higher.
Durham Habitat’s Interim CEO Jim Belanger stated that “this gift is a huge vote of confidence in Durham’s mission from a remarkable philanthropist. We will work to honor the confidence that she has pledged in us on behalf of future generations of Durham Habitat homeowners and their families.”
With the median home price in Chapel Hill exceeding $525,000, the opportunity to purchase a home in Orange County is farther and farther out of reach for local families. In order to serve more families, Orange Habitat is increasing new home production from 12 to 20 homes per year over the next two years. This growth in capacity will enable the affiliate to build more communities like Weavers Grove, Habitat’s new 32-acre mixed income community in Chapel Hill.
“The pandemic has exacerbated the housing crisis in Orange County. This incredible donation will allow Orange Habitat to sustainably scale our impact and look ahead to future building opportunities. It is my hope that this gift will be a major accelerator, allowing us to serve even more families and ensure our organization’s future for years to come with more innovative communities like Crescent Magnolia and Weavers Grove,” said Jennifer Player, Orange Habitat President and CEO.
Habitat International will use its $25 million portion of the donation to prioritize advocacy and programmatic efforts designed to dismantle systemic racism in housing. Specifically, the donation will allow Habitat to advocate for policy proposals and legislation that enable millions of people access affordable housing through its Cost of Home advocacy campaign; increase Black homeownership in the U.S. by targeting current systemic barriers through a new initiative that will launch this summer; and leverage innovative capital investments that service communities of color.
“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,” said Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford. “This incredible gift helps make that work possible.”
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