Steamboat investment firm to donate $400K for coronavirus relief
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A local investment firm is pledging $400,000 to help those in Routt County affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Deer Park Road is donating $200,000 to LiftUp of Routt County over the next four months, according to Chief Investment Officer and Managing Partner Scott Burg. The firm is determining where to donate the remaining $200,000.
This comes at a time when many are feeling the economic consequences of widespread shutdowns aimed at combatting the spread of the virus and the resulting loss of jobs, wages and revenue.
Burg said the money is meant to help residents recover from these hardships in the weeks and months ahead, when so much remains uncertain.
“For us, it’s all about community and family,” he said.
The money donated to LiftUp will go toward its housing assistance program, which helps residents who are struggling to pay their rent or mortgage. The support comes at a time when the local nonprofit is facing the temporary closure of its thrift store, a major source of income for the nonprofit
When it is open, the thrift store brings in at least $24,000 every two weeks, according to LiftUp Executive Director Sue Fegelein. Most of that money goes toward housing assistance and food costs, she said. The loss of that income makes the donation from Deer Park Road, which will be allocated in $50,000 increments over the next four weeks, that much more valuable.
“This is a huge boost for our community,” Fegelein said.
In a typical year, she said anywhere from 85 to 175 residents receive housing assistance through LiftUp. Her nonprofit is preparing to handle double that number of applicants just in the month of April alone as people need to pay their rent and mortgages.
While the $2 trillion federal stimulus package, meant to assuage the economic impact of COVID-19, is bringing financial aid to people, many have not received a check yet.
Fegelein said the investment firm’s donation will be instrumental in helping to meet the needs of the community. Case managers work with all applicants to ensure they have applied for all financial assistance for which they may qualify, such as unemployment benefits.
“We want to make sure the community members are getting every benefit available to them,” Fegelein said.
This is not the first time Deer Park Road has weathered tough economic times. Burg started at the firm in 2010, when the community was recovering from the 2008 recession. At that time, Burg and the investment firm’s founder, Michael Craig-Scheckman, made the risky decision to invest in people requesting mortgage loans.
“It ended up being the right decision, because a lot of them did deserve to have that mortgage,” Burg said, adding the firm benefitted well from the strategy.
A public health crisis such as this one poses a greater economic threat, he said, one that is harder to predict and causes more widespread damage.
“It is in many ways much worse, because you don’t know when this is going to end,” Burg said.
Despite the many unknowns, the investment firm is committed to helping residents through these difficult times.
Such acts of goodwill are what will allow Routt County to face the unknowns and overcome the current crisis, Fegelein said, seeing the donation as a reminder of what makes this community special.
“People’s generosity is overwhelming,” she said. “I am so grateful to live here.”
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