Beyond Housing Strives to Help Entire Communities Become Better Places to Live
by Marcelle Perry-Rhone
Marketing & Public Relations Manager
Beyond Housing is a community development organization that has chosen to work in defined geographies in order to focus our resources where we can have the greatest impact. While most organizations focus on one, maybe two impact areas within a community, we understand that to have real impact we must focus on all of the areas that make-up a thriving community—housing, education, health, job readiness and access, and economic development. An example of our work is taking place in the Normandy School District. It is called the 24:1 Initiative and with our support these contiguous communities are seeking to realize their goal of 24 communities with one vision: strong communities, engaged families and successful children.
But truly, Beyond Housing exists because home matters. While we begin with actual houses and housing preservation, focusing on quality and stability to give families a good place to start, we know that home is more than the house. Home is about the life that happens in and around the house, as well as the life that can fuel and draw out the best of the people within the house. We listen intently to the families and communities we serve, collaborate with stakeholders to identify holistic solutions then bring the best available resources to get the job done.
Although we’ve facilitated over $40 million in reinvestment activity, one of our best resources is the Beyond Housing staff. The commitment to Beyond Housing’s mission is exemplified at its best in Artis Beaty. Artis began his tenure as a member of the Maintenance Department but is now the Property Manager for the Service-Enriched Rental Housing program. Artis reflects, “My grandparents who raised me moved from Chicago to Wellston in the late 60’s. I can still remember the stories about how vibrant the MLK strip used to be. I have seen a lot of change throughout the years, ups and downs. I would have never dreamed or thought that I would work for a company that had the best intentions of building up the very community that I am from. I currently live in the footprint next door to an elementary school that has not been open for years. I see the workers going in and out, removing desks and chairs that students once sat in. It is sad to see. I know that every parent wants a good school for their children, as do I. This is mostly what I hear from residents as the property manager.”
Artis continues, “I find relief in knowing that Beyond Housing is here to help lessen the struggle of families experiencing hard times. If I had to say what I feel is the most important thing I want anyone to know about the communities in the Normandy School District, it would be that no matter how much adversity a student or family has to face, they can still make it through the struggle and come out winning, because I have.”
Artis truly embodies the mission and spirit of Beyond Housing, and is a passionate individual who works tirelessly to help entire communities become better places to live.
Beyond Housing understands the complex issues that transform once solid, middle class communities of the 60’s and 70’s into islands of disinvestment with deteriorating housing stock, inadequate public services, minimal job opportunities and struggling schools. We also understand that the families we serve desire progress and simply want a hand up, not a hand out. So we work on infrastructure, policy, direct services and partnerships to provide for the needs outside of our capacity. An exhaustive overview of all our efforts would take pages but a few highlights are:
- Over 400 affordable homes for rent
- New construction and beautifully rehabbed affordable homes for purchase
- Free health, nutrition and exercise activities throughout the 24:1 area
- After school and summer programs for youth
- A grocery store
- Foreclosure intervention services
- Home-ownership education and assistance
- A senior living community
- A full service bank with products tailored for the residents needs
Additional partnerships contributing to the collective impact include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Nurses 4 Newborns, United 4 Children, the Wyman Center, Better Family Life and Normandy School District.