MacKenzie Scott is the gift that keeps on giving—literally. The billionaire ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has made it her mission to offload much of the fortune she gained from their divorce, and lately she’s focused on combating the affordable housing crisis in California.
In the latest of her string of donations to California-based affordable housing nonprofit organizations, Scott made an “unexpected gift” of $15 million to Culver City, Calif.-based Century Housing, which finances, builds, and operates multi-family rental housing throughout the state. In September, Scott had also made an $8 million gift to San Francisco-based BRIDGE Housing and a $20 million donation to the San Francisco Community Land Trust.
This latest donation came as rent almost completely eats the earnings of many Southern California residents. As of July, the average monthly rent for a Los Angeles apartment is more than $2,700 according to RentCafe, an internet listing service for rental properties. That’s nearly 60% the average monthly earnings of a U.S. adult, CEIC data shows.
“Our work is more urgent than ever as rents continue to rise, putting more Californians at risk of housing instability, including groups like the working poor and seniors,” a Century Housing spokesperson tells Fortune. “We will use this remarkable gift to increase the supply of affordable housing in SoCal through our investments and developments, working with our many partners to provide housing security for more residents—and to ultimately build more equitable, thriving communities.”
Plus, buying a home in California is impossible for many people, with only 16% of residents qualifying to purchase a median-priced single-family home during the second quarter of this year, the California Association of Realtors reported in August. And most people can forget about owning a home in San Francisco. The average home price there is more than $1.2 million, according to Zillow, although it’s down by 9% year-over-year.
Century Housing historically has supported rental projects for residents who earn an average of 50% of the area median income level (AMI), which equates roughly to rents around 55% of the market rate, the spokesperson says.
Scott’s unrestricted donation will help the organization invest in more affordable housing projects similar to 1064 Mission Street, a permanent supportive housing site in San Francisco, and Red Tail Crossing, a supportive housing project in Los Angeles.
Century Housing Corp., the organization’s community development financial wing, also lends to developers of affordable housing for low-income residents and workforce housing for moderate-income residents who typically don’t qualify for subsidized housing, the spokesperson says. One such project is 231 Grant in Palo Alto, Calif., which will offer 110 affordable housing units for Bay Area educators. Also in the works is a 131-unit project in Petaluma, an hour north of San Francisco,, for residents earning at or below 30% to 60% of the area’s median income.
Since making her Giving Pledge in 2019, Scott has given away more than $14 billion to more than 1,600 non-profit organizations focused on solving a variety of problems, as well as universities, according to the Yield Giving page. Scott’s net worth is still at $38.1 billion, according to Forbes. Her supersized philanthropy has largely been inspired by her “impulse to help someone,” she wrote in December 2021.
“If you think you know how much impact might flow from acting on any of your own impulses to give, you are almost certainly wrong,” Scott wrote. “Each unique expression of generosity will have value far beyond what we can imagine or live to see.”