Boys Hope Girls Hope, a national organization that gives "academically capable and motivated children-in-need" a home to live in while they go to middle or high school, wants to build in Brentwood.
The proposed site for the two group homes (one for boys and one for girls) and an office is on two lots on Madge Avenue, a residential street in Brentwood.
The group held an informational meeting at St. Mary Magdalen Church Monday night and about 60 residents came.
Brentwood Planning and Zoning chairman John Geppert was there, but said that doesn’t mean the city or board of aldermen supports the house–he was only there to answer questions. He said nothing has been filed with the city yet.
After the group’s director, Brian Hipps, gave an introduction, the questions began. Most centered around having a total of 20 boys and girls living on the street, and parking and traffic.
A Madge Avenue resident worried about traffic. “The other homes don’t have 20 kids, they have six or seven,” she said. Boys Hope Girls Hope currently has homes in Kirkwood and Town and Country.
The project’s architect, Peter Schwartz, said the city would require 16 off-street parking spaces. He also said the proposed project would take up two lots. The one next to the Pasta House is zoned planned development. The group already owns that one. The one to the west of that one is currently zoned residential, and the group is talking with the owner about buying it.
It’s not yet determined if the students can go to Brentwood schools. Hipps is scheduled to talk to the school board on April 16. He said it’s the board’s decision if hardship waivers are provided, which would allow the teenagers in the house to attend Brentwood schools.
Another resident asked if the kids would be wandering around, and said she was uncomfortable about their troubled background.
Hipps answered that the staff are trained professionals, and after their young people get to know each other, they treat each other as siblings, not boyfriends and girlfriends. That statement was met with skepticism.
Hipps also said in the 13 years he’s been with the group there hasn’t been one criminal allegation. He said the state requires a 1-12 ratio of supervision to students, and the home would always be higher than that.
Resident, Fred Rauch, said, “I originally was pissed off, I thought we were going to get some juvenile delinquent company coming in.” He went to businesses in the area to let them know, then he visited the group’s Kirkwood location.
“It is beautiful,” he said. “I was wrong in my assessment, so after I went and saw this place, I called all those people back up and said I was wrong.”
Christine Lewis said after the meeting it’s an opportunity to make a difference.
“I’m not one bit afraid of these teenagers that are coming into our neighborhood,” she said. “I wish I lived where they’re going to do it. (She lives in Brentwood but not on Madge Avenue.) I think that would be awesome to be their neighbor.”
Read previous artilces on Boys Hope Girls Hope plans in Brentwood:
- Group Home for 20 Teenagers on Madge Avenue?
- Director of Group Home Wanting to Move to Madge Avenue: "Our Kids Are Hand-Picked"