Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Beyond Housing Lives Up to Its Name

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Beyond Housing Lives Up to Its Name

Article excerpt

More than 21 percent of children in Missouri live below the poverty line, according to the Center for American Progress.

The poverty rate in Missouri creates barriers in all aspects of life, from education to employment, which is why the organization Beyond Housing works in areas like the Normandy school district.

Beyond Housing is a Missouri-exclusive charity founded in 1975. Originally, they only built houses, but for the past 10 years, their goal has been to "help entire communities become better places to live," said Jackie Hamilton, chief development officer of Beyond Housing.

The 24: 1 initiative of Beyond Housing focuses on restoring 24 municipalities in the Normandy School District with one central vision: success for everyone in the community, from children to adults. In these communities, they assist 36,000 people, 3,500 of them kids.

The children of the community are a large part of what drives Hamilton's work with Beyond Housing.

"For me, it's passion," Hamilton said. "I want to do something where I think I can make a difference, and when I see kids' needs, its passion for me."

To restore communities, Hamilton said Beyond Housing follows a technique called Ask, Align, Act. First, the charity communicates with residents, asking them what they would like to see in their communities. Then, they align their resources with the mayors and outside sources. Finally, they act, creating a beneficial community for all.

The program began with a goal of providing housing for residents in need. They also saw a need to spark economic development by bringing in businesses. Hamilton said are of the Normandy school district hadn't had a large grocery store in more than 40 years until Beyond Housing built a Save-A-Lot in the area in July 2012.

Beyond Housing also doesn't underestimate the impact that entertainment can have on the community: the charity built a movie theater in Pagedale in November of 2015.

"This community needs to be able to enjoy themselves," Hamilton said. "They do it any-ways. They would go to Esquire, they would go to the Galleria. Now they can stay in their community."

The charity also has partnered with Midwest Bank to educate residents about banking and saving, thanks in part to their free financial advisors. …

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