SANDPOINT — Little Black Dress is a global initiative that seeks to make “poverty unfashionable,” drawing attention to the plight of those in poverty.
On a local level, Bonner Homeless Transitions aims to do the same through its fourth annual Little Black Dress fundraising event in November.
“We are excited about our upcoming event and the opportunity to share with the community a little known fact that over 50 percent of those we serve are children,” Joanne Barlow, BHT program manager, said in an email to the Daily Bee.
The Bonner County Homeless Task Force was established in 1991 by a group of food bank volunteers who saw a need in the community. While the task force has since been rebranded as Bonner Homeless Transitions, the mission is the same — to help homeless families and victims of domestic violence develop self-sufficiency and improve the quality of their lives.
“We promote stability to our homeless neighbors in order to enable them to move into permanent housing and make a contribution to our community,” said BHT vice president Ann Gehring said. “It is a win-win situation for everyone.”
BHT currently serves 12 adults — nine parents and three single women — and 14 children. For the adults who enter the program, getting a job and becoming contributing members of society is top priority, Gehring said.
“These people are wanting to help themselves, they just need some guidance and they need some stability,” she said, emphasizing the need for the children to have that stability as well.
BHT’s Blue Haven home in Sandpoint operates as a transitional home for homeless families and victims of domestic violence, and the Trestle Creek property was recently converted to low-income housing. The organization’s original Trestle Creek program, which housed a total of four families and four single women at any given time, shut down in 2017 after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it would no longer provide funding in Idaho. For BHT, this resulted in a loss of about $200,000 a year.
With the loss of that funding, Little Black Dress is the organization’s “event of the year,” Gehring said, to raise money for operating expenses the federal funding used to cover.
The event will feature a live and silent auction, hors d’oeuvres, and a no-host bar. The event will begin with some time for mingling and bidding on silent auction items, followed by a short program about what BHT does, a client who will speak about her experiences, and a liaison from the school district about the impact homelessness has on students. The live auction, and a dessert auction, will round out the evening.
Doors will open at 5 p.m., Nov. 9, in the Ponderay Events Center, 401 Bonner Mall Way. Tickets are $25 per person and are available at eventbrite.com or at the door.