Mobile home owners who fell dangerously behind on their taxes were at risk of losing their houses at auction in Montana's Missoula County last week — that is, until an anonymous donor doled out nearly $10,000 to help them out.
The unnamed individual appeared at county offices just one day before the auction was scheduled to take place on September 17, telling Annie Cathey, the delinquent tax clerk, that he wanted to help as many families as possible.
[sharequote align="center"]"He didn't want to make it about him."[/sharequote]
"He just said that he had read the article in [the local paper about the auction] and that he wanted to take care of as many homes as he could," Cathey told TheBlaze Friday. "[He asked] if we could figure out which ones were occupied, so that those people don't lose those houses."
She said that her team had no definitive way of knowing which mobile homes were inhabited, but if the home had been auctioned the previous year and didn't sell — and was up for auction again — they assumed that it wasn't in a livable condition and it was removed from the list of savable homes.
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So, after handing over about $9,600 to officials, the man ended up saving between 30 and 40 homes.
"It was definitely a big surprise," Cathey said of the generous gesture.
The individual had asked to remain anonymous, she said, because "he didn't want to make it about him."
While Cathey maintained that individuals have frequently agreed to help an individual homeowner with his or her tax burdens, she said that it's not common for someone to assist on such a sweeping scale.
"He just thought it was the right thing to do to keep people in their homes," Cathey said. "And [he thought] maybe it would spark the internet of the public to step forward and help others."
[sharequote align="center"]"He just thought it was the right thing to do to keep people in their homes."[/sharequote]
The county official said that others did, indeed, come forward and that there's been a great deal of chatter on social media about the man's generosity.
"I think it ultimately did reach his goal of reaching people," Cathey said.
She said that every one of the county clerks at the treasury office has spoken with at least one person whose home was saved — and that they are all elated.
"They are always so shocked and grateful," Cathey said. "A lot of people have asked if there's any way to get this anonymous man a card or thank you. So I'm working on that."
[sharequote align="center"]"They are always so shocked and grateful."[/sharequote]
Cathey did have one cautionary thought to share, though.
While she said it was wonderful that this man came forward to help the less fortunate, she warned that people in need shouldn't assume that someone will pay their taxes for them each and every year.
"As far as the county's perspective goes, we don't want people to rely upon this, thinking that it's something that's going to happen each year, so they don't take care of the taxes hoping someone else will," she said. "[But] it's a wonderful gift and it's great that it happened."
Front page image via Shutterstock.com