American author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gifted $436 million to Habitat for Humanity International and 84 U.S. Habitat affiliate organizations. Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity is one of four Washington organizations recognized with this investment in housing, having received a one-time unrestricted gift of $4.5M.
This transformational gift is an affirmation of Habitat’s belief that homeownership can change lives, improve communities and break the cycle of poverty. It also honors the collaborative spirit of our work.
Yet the need in our region has never been greater. Today, 1 in 7 Washington households are cost-burdened, paying more than half their income toward housing. This means your neighbors may not be able to afford both a roof overhead and groceries on the table.
According to the National Association of Home builders, 75% of Washington residents are priced out of homeownership at the current median home sale price of $502,000—which is a 258% increase over the past 10 years.
Everyday Habitat for Humanity offices across the country work against worrying statistics like these, partnering with Habitat homeowners and volunteers to build affordable homes and advocating for fair and just housing policies. In this work, we witness the profound process by which homeownership empowers individuals to transform not just their own lives, but the lives of their family and neighbors.
Just as Ms. Scott’s team thoughtfully and skillfully assessed the need for housing investment, so will Tacoma Habitat leadership take its time to strategically assess how to best put this transformational gift into action. Our top priorities will be to increase our capacity to effectively provide lasting housing solutions and increased stability for local families and individuals.
Decades of research have shown that homeownership is a leading indicator of strong health and education outcomes; a driver in breaking the cycle of poverty and building generational wealth. According to the Federal Reserve, the net worth of a homeowner is over 40 times greater than that of a renter; the median net worth of a homeowner is over $255,000 while the median net worth of a renter is $6,300.
Even as home values continue to climb, Tacoma Habitat keeps entry level homeownership a reality thanks to donations from everyday people. Our organization’s staff and board have continually refined and elevated the work, led by vision and strategy, hard labor, and boundless compassion for our community. To be recognized with a donation from Ms. Scott is truly humbling.
In a community where the affordability gap continues to widen, we also hope this incredible investment in our community will be a coalescing factor, inspiring others to lean into the housing crisis and collaborate to make change.
In all we do, we hope to amplify this simple message: every person deserves a safe, affordable home.