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OakStar Bank backs Drew Lewis Foundation

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OakStar Bank entered an affordable housing partnership with the Drew Lewis Foundation Inc. via the foundation’s Blue House Project.

Part of the Northwest Project, Blue House works with families to put them in new homes, build credit and down-payment resources, and educate homeowners on home maintenance and upkeep. It also aims to revitalize the Grant Beach neighborhood, according to a news release.

An OakStar donation of $99,000 to the Drew Lewis Foundation allows the purchase of a sixth home in the program. A family has moved into the home with the intent to purchase the residence within five years.

“For us to be able to come alongside this family, this neighborhood and make this kind of lasting impact is humbling,” said Rob Buchanan, chief risk officer at OakStar, in the release. “If we all do our part, help a family, help a neighborhood, then we will really begin to see poverty decrease and financial stability to flourish.”

The Drew Lewis Foundation was started by community advocate and businesswoman Amy Blansit after her husband Drew died of cancer in 2013, according to its website.

“Housing prices and rental rates have continued to climb in our community while income has remained flat,” Blansit said in the release. “When people cannot afford the basic necessities in life — a safe, quality place to raise their family — they live in crisis.”

The Northwest Project — dedicated to assisting Springfieldians living in poverty on the northwest side of the city — released its annual report in April highlighting its contributions from the last year. Report findings noted an increase of $450 per average household income, as well as debt reduction of $313,954 among the project’s 33 currently active participant households, and an average credit score increase of 20 points.

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