Jessie Ball duPont Fund Awards Landmark Grant to Support Affordable Housing

Trustees of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund awarded a grant of $150,000 to Ability Housing, Jacksonville, Florida, to help the nonprofit developer expand the stock of affordable housing in Jacksonville, Florida.

While the award was consistent with the Fund’s longstanding interest in affordable housing, it was a landmark decision for the trustees: the award marks the first time the trustees have made a grant to an organization based on a broader interpretation of eligibility.

“Mrs. duPont gave her trustees great latitude in fulfilling the mandates of her will,” said Sherry Magill, president of the Fund. “While the Fund always has had the opportunity to expand its interpretation of eligibility, it is only now that the trustees have chosen to seize that opportunity.”

In her will, Mrs. duPont instructs her trustees to support “the religious, charitable, literary and educational organizations to which I have made contributions during any of the five calendar years ending December 31, 1964.” Under this directive, the Fund has, for the past 40 years, focused its grantmaking on supporting this defined universe of organizations, which today number about 320.

But Mrs. duPont also states in her will that the trustees may award grants that will “be used for the temporary relief of individuals residing in Florida, Delaware or Virginia who are in need.”

In late 2017, the trustees decided to act on this broader directive and, at their discretion, consider grants to other organizations whose work provides relief to those in need in Florida, Delaware or Virginia. (To learn more, visit www.dupontfund.org.)

This approach enables the trustees to support important community work such as that done by Ability Housing.

Ability Housing is the only nonprofit developer of affordable housing in Jacksonville and one of the few in Florida with the capacity to develop affordable multi-family rental housing. The Fund has a long history of supporting affordable housing; it is a central tenet of the Fund’s financial asset-building strategy. Since the Great Recession, the Fund has made program-related investments,  supported commissioned research and hosted community conversations, as well as made traditional grants, to advance affordable housing in Jacksonville.

In 2017, the Fund invited Ability Housing to submit a grant proposal that would support expansion of its work in Jacksonville. The proposal was reviewed independently by three attorneys to ensure that the grant meets the requirements of Mrs. duPont’s will.

The grant will help Ability Housing hire staff needed to expand its work so that, by 2020, Ability Housing will be able to provide 410 affordable housing units in Jacksonville. Specifically, the program will meet the needs of households earning 60% or less of the Area Median Income.