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MacKenzie Scott donates millions to Charlotte-area Habitat for Humanity affiliates

habitat for humanity clt.jpg
Habitat for Humanity for the Charlotte Region
Habitat for Humanity for the Charlotte Region and Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete work on a house in March 2022.

A $436 million gift from MacKenzie Scott to Habitat for Humanity International and 81 affiliate organizations will provide a significant boost to the Charlotte region.

Catawba Valley and York County, South Carolina, affiliates received $2.5 million each and the Charlotte Region received $13.5 million in unrestricted giving from Scott, an author, philanthropist and the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

“It’s really transformational and the way that she has gifted it is unusual,” said Laura Belcher, president & CEO of Habitat Charlotte Region. “As a donor, she has indicated that it’s unrestricted and that we can use it over time and for the purposes that we want to within our community. So this is the largest gift we’ve ever gotten by far.”

Belcher noted that Habitat Charlotte adopted a new strategic plan in January and the new money will allow it to be accelerated.

“The need for affordable homeownership has never been greater in our community and across the country, so the timing of this and stepping forward and raising the awareness of the need is really critical,” she said.

Known for building new homes, Habitat also works with existing homes and rehabilitation. Belcher said that effort can grow as well with the donation.

“But then we also want to look at some things we haven’t done in the past that will remove barriers to homeownership,” she said. “So we want to look carefully at whether or not there’s policy activity that we should be pursuing that would have greater impact.”

Belcher said there is a commitment to racial equity in the gift that will impact the local community.

“We know that families of color have been locked out of homeownership and economic mobility for generations,” she said. “So a portion of our efforts are certainly going to be dedicated to looking at what we can do more in that area. That’s always been an area of focus and commitment for us, but what can we do even more?”

Habitat Charlotte Region has served over 3,500 families since 1983 with affordable housing and critical home repairs.

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Woody is a Charlotte native who came to WFAE from the world of NASCAR where he was host of NASCAR Today for MRN Radio as well as a pit reporter, turn announcer and host of the NASCAR Live pre race show for Cup Series races. Before that, he was a news anchor at WBT radio in Charlotte, a traffic reporter, editor of The Charlotte Observer’s University City Magazine, News/Sports Director at WEGO-AM in Concord and a Swiss Army knife in local cable television. His first job after graduating from Appalachian State University was news reporter at The Daily Independent in Kannapolis. Along the way he’s covered everything from murder trials and a national political convention to high school sports and minor league baseball.