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ARCH Fundraiser Provides Housing for Two-Plus Teachers
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Monday, July 11, 2022
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTOS BY LESLIE SILVA AND KAREN BOSSICK

Those supporting affordable housing initiatives in the Wood River Valley saw homes materialize right before their eyes this week as they savored a salmon dinner.

Some 120 people attending an ARCH fundraiser Thursday evening watched on screen as the donations they pledged built two virtual $400,000 homes, including the foundations, framing, $25,000 worth of doors and windows for each home and a $100,000 roof for each home.

By the time the lovely summer evening drew to a close, those in attendance had pledged $896,474—good enough for two new homes for teachers with $100,000 pledged toward a third.

“We’re were thrilled and honored that so many people attended our event and that they supported housing so generously,” said Michelle Griffith, who has served as the executive director of ARCH for 17 years.

Attendees were spurred on by a million-dollar match from Jeanne L. Herberger, who bought a summer home in the Sun Valley area two years ago and had already given a million-dollar match to ARCH.

“When I came here, I researched the greatest needs for my new community and I heard about how they bring in trailers every summer to the St. Luke’s parking lot to provide housing for health care workers,” said Herberger, who started an organization to foster education and employment opportunities for Phoenix women, funded an endowment fund for the Phoenix Symphony, supported the Herberger Theater Center and helped fund the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and the Gary K. Herberger Young Scholarship Academy.

The fundraiser held on the lawn of Blair and Cynthia Hull’s riverside home encompassed education and discussion in a novel way. Sam Davis, author of such books as “The Architecture of Affordable Housing” and “Designing for the Homeless: Architecture that Works,” led diners in a discussion of affordable housing myths. Those included: It will decrease property values, increase crime, will not be maintained, will be too large and not fit in and will create traffic congestion.

“I think it’s way better to have permanent residents than a revolving Airbnb in your neighborhood,” said Elkhorn resident Beth Willis.

Taking her place among the 120 attendees was Rebekah Helzel, who started ARCH in 2004 with the help of a few others, such as Lesley Andrews.

“I was living across the street from the Bavarian Village in Ketchum and seeing all these hardworking people go to work every day, and then I saw their homes being demolished to make way for multi-million-dollar condos,” she recounted. “It’s needed now more than ever as we have so many service and other businesses who can’t hire enough employees due to lack of affordable housing.”

ARCH Board President Cynthia Hull noted that many of the workers in the Wood River Valley do not qualify for federal funding to help with housing because they make more money than federal guidelines allow. But they can’t afford housing here because housing costs are so much higher than their salaries can afford.

“So, we moved from a federally funded housing program to donor funded. The stability of our work force is the key issue,” she said.

Blaine County School District Trustee Dan Turner said teachers occupying the new houses would pay 30 percent of their income in rent. A teacher on a starting salary of $52,000, for instance, would pay $15,600 annually.

“We are so excited about our partnership with ARCH because housing will be a recruitment tool,” he said, noting that the district currently has 32 open positions in a district that employs 525. “Investments in places to live is something we’ve needed in our community so long. We’ve got 30 lots throughout the district--south of the middle school, around the high school, in Carey… What we have here is a partner that sees the needs in the community and is helping to address them.”

Sherri Newland, an ARCH board member, said she has been excited watching how the organization’s work has grown so quickly the past couple years: “I’m amazed how something community struggled with so long is finally gaining momentum.”

“ARCH Is the future, the path forward for this community,” added Ketchum resident Perry Boyle.

To learn more about ARCH Community Housing Trust, visit https://archbc.org. Or, call 208-726-4411.

DID YOU KNOW?

ARCH President Cynthia Hull studied under Sam Davis at the University of California-Berkeley. Even then, she said, he was advocating for his students to think about housing for underserved populations.

“He was aghast when I told him I wanted to design estates,” she recalled. “I hope he realizes now that I did in fact see the light.”

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