MacKenzie Scott donated $6 million to Habitat for Humanity Chicago and DuPage as part of a $436 million gift to Habitat for Humanity organizations throughout the world, the organizations announced Tuesday.
Both local affiliates said the philanthropist's funds will be used to make "catalytic" investments in improving the safety and affordability of housing in Illinois neighborhoods.
"Habitat Chicago is extremely grateful for this unexpected and exceptionally generous gift by Ms. Scott," Habitat Chicago Executive Director Jennifer Parks said in a statement. "Her donation will bolster our continued investment in neighborhood health by growing our programs in our focus neighborhoods of West Pullman and Greater Grand Crossing on Chicago's South Side, as well as our expansion to Austin on the West Side."
Scott’s funds will be used to mend past disinvestment and exclusionary housing policies, such as redlining and racial restrictive covenants, in the focus neighborhoods, according to the organization.
With attention to fostering cyclical change in the communities, the organizations also will work with local residents across homeownership, civic engagement and neighborhood development projects.
"This transformational gift will have an incredible and lasting impact on the communities we serve," Jennifer Taff, interim executive director for DuPage Habitat for Humanity, said. "Our approach is to collaborate with residents of a neighborhood to improve their quality of life."
On the international scale, Habitat will use its $25 million portion of the donation to advocate for policy proposals and legislation that aims to "dismantle systemic racism in housing."
The global organization will continue its five-year Cost of Home advocacy campaign to provide millions of people access to affordable housing while also taking on other initiatives, including increasing home ownership in 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," Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford said. "This incredible gift helps make that work possible."