Amethyst Place - supportive housing project

MacKenzie Scott gives Amethyst Place a $2M boost


Sunflower Development Group

Amethyst Place, a Kansas City nonprofit focused on providing supportive housing has received $2 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to help build affordable long-term residences east of Troost Avenue.

Scott’s Yield Giving organization on Tuesday announced the award for Amethyst Place, which offers long-term supportive housing for women and children recovering from substance use, poverty and trauma. Amethyst Place was chosen through a $250 million Yield Giving open call launched in March 2023. The initiative initially planned 250 awards of $1 million each, from 6,353 applications; the donor team later expanded the awardee pool and award amount.

Amethyst Place will put the $2 million toward a $16 million supportive housing expansion project it has underway at 2770 Tracy Ave. The plan, on which partner Sunflower Development Group broke ground in August, entails 25 apartments and seven townhomes. The expansion also includes new programming space, offices for on-site services, fitness and child care centers, a comprehensive security system and green space for families.

“We are incredibly honored to be among the leading nonprofits in the country working toward transformational community change,” Starla Wulf Brennan, executive director of Amethyst Place, said in a Tuesday release. “This gift nearly closes the gap on our capital campaign, ensuring affordable housing for 32 more families by the end of 2024. We can’t wait to bring these families off our yearlong waitlist and home to heal.”

It’s not the first time Scott’s largesse has benefited Kansas City. In 2022, her foundation donated $5 million to Kansas City Teacher Residency and $1 million to the Urban League of Greater Kansas City. Also in 2022, she directed a $1 million slice of a $38.8 million national award to Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City. Not long after that, Scott steered $15 million to Health Forward Foundation. And in 2020, Goodwill Industries of Kansas received $5 million.

With Scott’s award, Amethyst Place’s new residences are 87% funded. The project’s capital campaign to date has drawn support from a range of local funding partners. The largest single contributor, Kansas City, has kicked in $3.05 million from different programs, including two Housing Trust Fund awards.

The new apartment building is partway through framing, with foundation and footings being completed for the townhomes. Its expansion will be on a 1.28-acre grass lot Amethyst Place bought in 2021, east across Forest Avenue from the nonprofit’s existing 37-residence campus, which it master leases from Courtyard Properties LLC. Together, the combined units will serve an estimated 300 women and children each year.

“Sadly, our average waitlist holds about 50 families,” Brennan said in the release. “Most families wait a year before they can move in. During this time, mom is unhoused, and most children are separated in foster care. Imagine all the trauma endured and the potential stifled during this devastating wait.”

The coming residences will provide supportive housing for graduates of Amethyst Place’s one-year intensive program, which helps residents resolve circumstances, such as past evictions or outstanding legal issues, that otherwise would keep them from qualifying for Housing Choice Vouchers.

The nonprofit said that nearly doubling its capacity will help new families experiencing homelessness move in more quickly, while allowing current families to stay longer. Reunifying families also stands to produce significant cost savings for the foster care system and reduce societal consequences from substance use disorders and unmanaged mental health, the release says.

“We are excited that our partnership with Yield Giving has resonated with so many organizations,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change, which managed the Yield Giving applications. “In a world teeming with potential and talent, the open call has given us an opportunity to identify, uplift and empower transformative organizations that often remain unseen.”

Development partners in Amethyst Place’s expansion include Rosemann & Associates as architect; Rau Construction as contractor; and Olsson, LandWorks Studio Antella Inc., KHE Group and Riggs Recreation as engineering-design team members.

Read the original article by Thomas Friestad at the Kansas City Business Journal.

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