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Habitat for Humanity Portland gets $8.5M from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott

Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, donated $436 million to Habitat for Humanity and its affiliates across the U.S.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Habitat for Humanity's Portland chapter will receive about $8.5 million as part of a $436 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. 

The funds will be used to help close the homeownership gap for people of color and increase access to affordable homeownership opportunities for low-income communities in the Portland metro area.

"It’s a transformational gift for us. It is a big deal. It’s the largest gift we’ve ever received," said Steve Messinetti, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Portland Region.

In a news release, Habitat for Humanity Portland Region said the 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."

The donation comes at a critical time for Oregonians as many continue to feel the effects of a housing crisis exacerbated by the pandemic. 

In Portland, the median sales price for a single-family home was $511,000 in Feb 2022, a 16% increase over the prior year, the release said. This past year, Habitat Portland Region’s average first mortgage was $166,000 for three and four-bedroom homes.

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“The transformational power of this gift cannot be overstated. This donation highlights the urgency to devote substantial resources toward increasing the development of affordable homeownership opportunities,” said Messinetti. “The timing of this gift aligns well with the development of our new five-year strategic plan. We are exploring strategic investments that will bring to scale our home-building and home repair efforts across our region.” 

Habitat for Humanity Portland Region is one of 84 Habitat affiliates benefiting from Scott's donation. The umbrella organization, Habitat for Humanity International, will receive $25 million alone, which will be used to "prioritize advocacy and programmatic efforts designed to dismantle systemic racism in housing," the news release said. 

“We are so thankful to Ms. Scott for this impactful investment in homeownership across our nation and right here in the Portland region,” said Messinetti. “I am confident that her generosity will help ignite and inspire our own Portland region to step more boldly into the vision of eliminating the homeownership gap for communities of color.” 

Since 1981, Habitat for Humanity has built and repaired homes in partnership with over 2,000 people across the Portland metro area. Lean more about how you can help at habitatportlandregion.org.

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