SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Blue House Project is currently renovating five homes in the Grant Beach Neighborhood to turn into housing for low to moderate income families.

“Grant Beach is a really special neighborhood, but unfortunately has some of the highest rates of poverty in the area,” Director of Programming Drew Deardorff said. “We want to be able to make a difference. And if that means working with one family or one house at a time, and that’s what we’re here for.”

To get into one of these homes, a family must be a part of the Reaching Independence through Support and Education (RISE) Program.

“So anyone that wants to be a part of the blue house does have to first graduate from our rise curriculum,” Director of Personal Development Meghan Storey said. “That is a 16 week program with weekly classes. I always like to say it’s more than just a ‘poverty’ program.”

Storey said the classes include financing, budgeting, literacy, and relationships and boundaries.

“We have people who have their masters,” Storey said. “We’ve had people who make $100 thousand. But, they’re facing foreclosures or something. So we’re not just targeting one audience. We’re here for anyone who wants the education.”

Once families complete the RISE Program, they can then go through the application process for a Blue House home.

“We currently have 12 homes that we’ve been working with,” Drew Deardorff said. “Five of those homes are currently actually under renovation. We’ve sold three homes and we’ve got families in the rest of them.”

Families rent the home for 24 months. After that, they have the chance to buy the home.

“Their monthly income cannot be less than 30 percent of the mortgage payment that they’ll be paying,” Storey said. “We’re going to be doing monthly check-ins, where we walk the house, make sure that it’s still maintained as an asset, not a liability and then we’re also going to meet with them every month.”

Before they can even move in, the house has to be renovated, which can take several months depending on its condition.

“I think there’s a lot of different complicated factors that go into why some of these homes are in disrepair,” Deardorff said. “A lot of times it comes down to landlord and ownership of the homes itself. If you’ve got struggling families in a neighborhood, it makes it a lot more difficult for them to be able to do the repairs that are necessary and needed for these homes.”

“Some of the issues we hear quite often are I want my kid to be able to bike around or don’t want them to deal with the violence,” Storey said. “That happens in every neighborhood, but it does not help if we have abandoned houses that people can target for some of these mischievous behaviors.”

BHP is wanting to expand outside of Grant Beach in the future and renovate more houses per year.

“One thing that we want to see as we want to see our families continue to live in this community in these neighborhoods, but we want to see them thrive,” Storey said.

The twelfth home is on West Lynn.