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United Way of the Lewis & Clark Area gets a $500K donation

United Way of the Lewis & Clark Area
Posted at 6:33 PM, Apr 24, 2024

HELENA — United Way of the Lewis & Clark Area recently received a $500,000 donation from an anonymous donor, providing them the necessary funding to help secure the Helena Inn.

“It’s like a jumpstart to this process,” says Community Impact Coordinator with United Way, Jeff Buscher.

The United Way is working to purchase the Helena Inn to turn it into a 48-unit permanent supportive housing apartment building. Tenants would be required to pay rent or go through housing assistance, but not by more than 30% of their income. The space would support men, women, children, and families with the support of Helena Housing Authority and Rocky Mountain Development Council. Wrap-around services such as mental health and chemical dependency would be offered for residents, too.

After raising $70,000, $20,000 more than their goal, United Way was able to pay the earnest money for the property.

“Folks were coming through the door writing checks to us because they said, we want to help you secure this property. We don’t want you to lose it,” says Buscher.

The closing date for the property is at the end of June. So far, United Way has raised just over $600,000. The total price for the property, renovations, and programming is $5 million.

The anonymous donor gave United Way $500,000 about two weeks ago. United Way is in discussions as to how the money will be used. Whether that be as an incentive for matching funds or otherwise, they do know that this money makes a huge difference in buying a property they say is necessary for the community.

“We are absolutely encouraged by the community's response. But we are doing our due diligence now to, it takes some time, obviously, to write grants, to pursue other funders. We are all having conversations with folks that we know who are supportive of this project. And so, it takes time,” says Buscher.

And with the upcoming annual fundraiser Greater Helena Gives on May 1-2, Buscher hopes this large donation will only help keep the ball rolling in order to garner more funds.

“Frankly that's what we're here for, is to help spread that word. People ask, how can we help? Right now, donations are a big help,” says Buscher.

United Way hopes to have the new housing apartments open sometime in the fall.