Avenues for Hope fundraiser kicks off

Gerald Hunter

This story has been edited to include the correct ending date of the Avenues for Hope fundraising campaign.

Sojourners Alliance at Moscow, Habitat for Humanity and Family Promise services in this area have been some of the biggest beneficiaries of an online fundraising campaign to help organizations that are focused on safe, stable and affordable housing.

The Avenues for Hope campaign kicked off Thursday and hopes to raise $1 million in 20 days to assist people looking for low-income housing.

Gerald Hunter, president of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association that sponsors the fundraising drive, acknowledged the difficulty many Idahoans have finding affordable housing.

“It’s why this year we hope to raise $1 million to help participating nonprofits maintain and expand their housing and homelessness prevention services,” Hunter said.

Steve Bonnar, executive director of Sojourners Alliance in Moscow, said last year the fundraising campaign netted $74,000 for his organization. Family Promise services in Latah County raised $81,000.

“It’s an incredibly well-developed fundraising advance for any housing organization,” Bonner said.

The campaign benefits chronically and temporarily homeless, domestic violence survivors, veterans, people with disabilities, vulnerable youth, senior citizens and low-income people.

Over the past eight years, the Avenues for Hope Housing Challenge has helped raise more than $3 million for almost 70 Idaho nonprofits that work to provide housing for Idahoans. The three-week campaign that takes place every December has become the single largest fundraiser for many Idaho housing nonprofits. In 2018, more than 2,600 donors contributed $600,000. Another $275,000 was awarded in prizes and matching funds donated by 40 campaign sponsors, bringing the 2018 campaign total to $875,000.

Dean Johnson, spokesman for the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, said the campaign started in 2011 during the economic downturn when it was noticed that many nonprofits needed an extra boost to maintain their programs.

“We used this as an effort to help them out and we also saw that many of them relied on federal dollars,” Johnson said. “We did this to help provide the infrastructure and incentive to help them fundraise from a community level ... so they can help more people and expand their programs.”

Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Wells Fargo and Idaho Housing and Finance Association are three of the major sponsors of the campaign. Bonnar said these organizations match dollar-for-dollar for the first $3,000 donated. Gifts of $25 or more will help secure matching funds and prize money for the participating organizations.

Each donation helps provide resources to ensure people in Idaho have access to safe, stable, affordable housing and supportive services.

Some of the other nonprofits that have benefited from the campaign include Alternative to Violence of the Palouse, Moscow Affordable Housing Trust, St. Vincent de Paul of north Idaho, the Salvation Army of Lewiston and Union Gospel Mission.

The campaign runs through Dec. 31 and anyone seeking more information or to make a donation may visit the website at www.avenuesforhope.org.

Hedberg may be contacted at kathyhedberg@gmail.com or (208) 983-2326.

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