The Helena Housing Authority, also commonly referred to as the "HHA", is a non-profit agency established by federal and state legislation to provide safe and affordable housing in combination with related services to eligible low-income residents. This HHA project, the Helena Early Learning and Job Training Center, is a small building that will house Headstart classrooms and be used for Adult Education after hours. Working on an extremely small budget for new construction was the first major challenge for the team.
A master plan for the entire Stewart Homes community is anticipated to be developed over the next few years. However, the need for a new learning center, particularly for the Headstart program under contract, was paramount. The second team challenge is that construction of learning center must precede the master planning process for the rest of the community, including new homes and community service offices.
The third challenge, site selection, was difficult because the owner and team knew it needed to be designed and built with the least impact on the opportunities available when rest of community is redesigned and rebuilt. This decision produced daily challenges and sometimes lost opportunities in and of itself but the community definitely agreed the immediate construction of the new center was essential.
Every penny counted so the owner and team looked at long-term, total cost of ownership. It was also an essential goal that the project contribute to teaching and learning about conserving resources and that it serve as a model of how to live sustainably. It was an opportunity and a responsibility that few other non-profits have.
The site is ideally located in Stewart Homes, making the daycare and adult education programs extremely convenient for the population served. The site is also very visible to the entire Helena community.