N.O. Habitat for Humanity Receives $4.5M from MacKenzie Scott

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NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity has received $4.5 million — its biggest gift ever — from MacKenzie Scott, the philanthropist and ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The financial support is part of a $436 million gift from Scott to Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates. The nonprofit said the gift 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.”

In 2019, Scott became one of the richest women in the world when she gained approximately $38 billion from her divorce settlement. That same year, she signed the Giving Pledge, created by billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, and agreed to donate the majority of her wealth during her lifetime.

“We’re extremely grateful to MacKenzie Scott for her incredible and generous gift,” said Marguerite Oestreicher, NOAHH executive director, in a press release. “What makes this so extraordinary is that the gifts to Habitat International and our sister affiliates are all unrestricted, meaning each of us will be able to decide how best to utilize these funds to address critical housing needs.” 

Active for 38 years, NOAHH said it has hosted more than 200,000 volunteers who have built homes, cleaned up blighted properties and made repairs as the nonprofit provided a path to homeownership for more than 650 families. Habitat homebuyers benefit from zero-interest mortgages and commit to providing 250 hours of “sweat equity” in lieu of making a down payment. It also operates retail locations on Elysian Fields in New Orleans and on Williams Boulevard in Kenner. NOAHH has also been active in post-Hurricane Ida recovery efforts.

“It is a testament to the years of hard work by our board, staff, sponsors and volunteers that Ms. Scott has trusted us with such an important gift,” said Oesteicher. “Addressing our housing crisis is a complex undertaking that will require innovation and resources. This transformative gift will provide NOAHH with just such an opportunity,” she said.

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