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MacKenzie Scott has donated $20 million to the San Francisco Community Land Trust, an affordable housing nonprofit with a mission to create “permanently affordable, resident-owned housing for low- and moderate-income people,” its website reads.
Scott, a philanthropist and the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is continuing her mission to give away a bulk of her fortune, which comes from Amazon shares she received in her divorce settlement (the two were married for 25 years before their divorce in 2019). This year alone, as of late last month, 17 nonprofits announced they’ve received donations from Scott through her Yield Giving fund; the gifts totaled $97 million and ranged from $1 million to $15 million. To date, according to her Yield Giving fund, she’s donated more than $14 billion to over 1,600 nonprofits—and still, her net worth is sitting at $36.5 billion, according to Forbes.
“This monumental gift from Ms. Scott exemplifies a shared commitment to addressing the housing affordability crisis that is crippling the Bay Area,” the press release issued on Wednesday read. “We are deeply grateful for her belief and dedication to investing in the Community Land Trust model at a time when many traditional funders have stepped back.”
The average San Francisco home value is $1,269,632; the average U.S. home value is $348,126, to compare. And the average rent for all bedroom and property types in San Francisco is $3,519, which is 68% higher than the national median. So it’s no surprise that the Bay Area Council Economic Institute has said that “housing affordability in San Francisco has reached a crisis point.”
“The scale and depth of our intersecting housing, public health, and climate sustainability challenges demand immediate and bold action,” the codirector of California Community Land Trust Network said in the release. “This forward-thinking donation from MacKenzie Scott will not only enable SFCLT to actualize its mission but will also catalyze the work of Community Land Trusts across the region and provide a template for those who want to see a housing market and economy that work for low-income and BIPOC communities.”
The nonprofit also announced that it’s launching a $60 million campaign to turn the momentum of Scott’s donation into “lasting change,” while taking the opportunity to celebrate the opening of 1130 Filbert Street. The four-unit building purchased by the organization that’s home to seniors and families would have been converted into luxury condominiums of Tenancies in Common, the San Francisco Community Land Trust said, if it hadn’t intervened.
“The time to act is now before the predicted ‘real estate apocalypse’ makes all Bay Area land and housing so astronomically expensive that it is beyond the reach of any social policy intervention,” Saki Bailey, executive director at the San Francisco Community Land Trust’s executive, said in the press release.
According to its website, community land trusts can “preserve San Francisco’s diminishing affordable housing stock” by acquiring and converting rental buildings into permanently affordable, limited-equity housing cooperatives, which it defines as: “an alternative form of homeownership-through which the current residents become owners of the building.” The land trust maintains ownership of the land, but separates the building from the land, making its units affordable; there are 12 buildings listed on its website.