Mar 24, 2022 - News

MacKenzie Scott donates $9M to Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity

Workers nail pieces of wood in a parking lot.

Jianfeng Li of China hammers in a nail as Kemin employees work with Habitat for Humanity outside the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center on June 17, 2019. Photo: Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register

In her latest effort to donate the majority of her wealth, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $436 million to Habitat for Humanity — $9 million of which is going to Des Moines' chapter.

Why it matters: Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity is focusing on increasing homeownership for the Black community — a population that's historically faced systemic barriers to qualifying for loans to get a home.

State of play: Low credit scores are one of the main impediments for families trying to get a traditional loan from the bank, said Lance Henning, the group's president.

  • Yes, but: When applicants apply for a home through Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit looks at other factors that can signal someone is financially stable, such as consistent rent payments.

This year, the Des Moines chapter is piloting a new program that offers guidance to applicants who aren't initially accepted, so they can continue to learn how to improve their financial standing and qualify for a home the next time they try.

What's next: The chapter is determining specifics for how they want to use the $9 million, but their goal is to get 50 families into homes every year, Henning said.


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