PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Habitat for Humanity Portland Region says a recent gift it received from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott will be transformational for its work around the city. 

Scott recently donated $36 million to 83 different Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the U.S. Of that, $8.5 million will go to the non-profit in Portland. 

“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,” Habitat for Humanity Portland Region wrote in a press release. 

The group says Oregon residents are feeling the effects of  an affordable housing crisis exacerbated by the pandemic and this contribution comes at a critical time. According to the latest report from the Regional Multiple Listing Service, the average home sale price in the Portland metro area in February was $584,100, a 10.5% increase from the year before. 

In the past year, Habitat for Humanity Portland Region said its average first mortgage was $166,000 for 3- and 4-bedroom homes. 

“This donation highlights the urgency to devote substantial resources toward increasing the development of affordable homeownership opportunities,” said Steve Messinetti, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Portland Region. 

He said the timing of the gift aligns well with the development of the non-profit’s new five-year strategic plan. 

Habitat for Humanity Portland region said a gift of this magnitude will help allow homeownership for more people of color who were historically blocked from economic opportunities due to systemic racism. The group also plans to use the money to invest in organization-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion advancements and advocate for policy and system changes that will allow for more affordable homeownership opportunities in low-income communities. 

“We are so thankful to Ms. Scott for this impactful investment in homeownership across our nation and right here in the Portland region,” Messinetti said. “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.” 

Habitat for Humanity International received $25 million through the donation and plans to prioritize advocacy and programmatic efforts designed to dismantle systemic racism in housing. 

The donation will allow the organization to advocate for policy proposals and legislation that could enable millions of people access to affordable housing through its Cost of Home advocacy campaign. The group also plans to increase Black homeownership in the U.S. by targeting current systemic barriers through a new initiative that’s set to launch in summer 2022. Additionally, it plans to leverage innovative capital investments that service communities of color. 

MacKenzie Scott is a novelist and philanthropist. She was formerly married to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. When the two divorced, she left the marriage with $38 billion in Amazon stock, according to Vogue and The New York Times. Since the divorce, she’s made some of the biggest charitable gifts ever given by a single person and she’s pledged to give away most of her wealth.