Holiday philanthropy

Austin billionaire’s foundation gives $38 million to combat local homelessness

Austin billionaire’s foundation gives $38M to combat homelessness

Community First Village Austin
Much of the money from the donation will help pay for the expansion of the Community First! Village. Mobile Loaves & Fishes/Instagram

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has committed $38 million to combating homelessness in Austin.

The foundation, established by Austin billionaire Michael Dell and his wife, Susan, announced the donation November 30. The bulk of the money — $36.6 million — will go to Multiplying Goodness, a $150 million fundraising campaign for Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ Community First! Village. The campaign will finance the addition of 1,400 microhomes and manufactured homes for people experiencing chronic homelessness. The 1,400 homes will be located on 123 acres at the village, which is in northeast Travis County.

The foundation’s announcement coincided with Giving Tuesday, a day set aside each year (shortly after Thanksgiving) to raise money for charities around the world.

Austin-based Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a faith-based nonprofit that helps the homeless, opened the Community First! Village in 2015. The 27-acre first phase houses more than 220 formerly homeless men and women. The 24-acre second phase, now underway, currently houses nearly 100 people with an eventual goal of housing 500 people.

Aside from the $36.6 million for Multiplying Goodness, $1 million in matching funds from the Dell family’s foundation will go to Austin nonprofit Foundation Communities for the construction of 100 housing units at Community First! Village. The remaining $400,000 will go to Austin nonprofit LifeWorks to provide permanent housing for youth who’ve been homeless.

“As Austin grows, it’s more important than ever that we care for those most vulnerable in our communities,” Susan Dell, co-founder and chair of the family’s foundation, says in a news release. “By coming together as a community, we can provide those experiencing homelessness in Central Texas with the dignity they deserve through stable housing and the opportunity to experience community again.”

Of the estimated 3,000 people who are experiencing homelessness in Austin, about half are chronically homeless, compared with the national average of 25 percent.

“What’s happening through Community First! Village is a reflection of the genuine goodness that exists in our great city,” Alan Graham, founder and CEO of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, says in the foundation’s news release. “Our vision is for Austin to truly become a community that is empowered into a lifestyle of service with our neighbors who have experienced homelessness.”

Construction on the next phases of Community First! Village is set to begin in 2022.

Michael Dell, co-founder of the Dell family’s foundation, is chairman and CEO of Round Rock-based Dell Technologies. As of December 1, his net worth is estimated at $58.3 billion.

“We believe everyone deserves opportunity. But it isn’t easy to chart the path to a stronger future without a secure place to live. With stable housing and a supportive community, people can create a better future,” Dell says in the foundation’s news release.