Wednesday kicks off the eighth year of the Avenues for Hope Housing Challenge, a fundraiser aiming to help nonprofit housing providers and school homeless programs in Idaho. Avenues for Hope says many are struggling because of increased housing prices and stagnant wages, and the money from the fundraiser allows nonprofits to better serve those in need.

The 20 day Housing Challenge raises funds for 55 nonprofits around Idaho. The fundraiser has raised $2.2 million since the first Housing Challenge in 2011. Avenues for Hope estimates 3,000 people used the housing services paid for by the over $700,000 raised in 2017.  

The money goes towards services non-profits struggle to pay for with small budgets. "That might be a security deposit, that might be a night stay in a shelter, case management services, a couple months rent, food. So there's a lot of different uses for the funds that are raised,” says Brady Ellis, the Vice President of Housing support Programs at Idaho Housing and Finance.

Aid for Friends in Pocatello is one of the 16 nonprofits in the southeast region benefiting from the housing challenge. They've been a part of the fundraiser since its inception in 2011. The homeless shelter has used this money to fill the gaps in its operations budget.

This year, Aid for Friends plans to use all the funds to build a new shelter and administrative office. "Right now we are at capacity or at overflow most of the nights,” says BJ Stensland, the Aid for Friends Executive Director, “So it's going to give us a safer, cleaner spot to be at, and be able to provide additional services that didn't have space to do before."

The fundraiser opens online at 8 a.m. and goes until midnight on December 31st. Donations can be directed to any participating non-profit at Avenues for Hope has a $3,000 match dollar for dollar on any donation.



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