There is no magic solution to the housing crisis that has hit many towns across America, but one man in Carpentersville, Ill. has come up with a very unique way of addressing the situation. In an effort to save his town from becoming a ghost land of empty, foreclosed homes, he’s bought 193 forecolosed home, fixed them up, and either sells or rents them at a discount to locals.
CNNMoney says the 60-year-old man, who is a co-owner of the town’s largest employer, started on his quest in 2005 when a housing complex in the area had a raft of foreclosures and subsequently, crime started popping up there.
“It really was neglected,” he tells CNN. “I went to the town, the county; I went to Habitat for Humanity; I told them that we needed to do something about this neighborhood. I couldn’t get help from anybody.”
Instead, he bought 69 of the foreclosed condos there himself, and his plan came to life. The homes he buys for usually less than $30,000 at auction and fixes them up. He then rents them out for below market value.
He started to see how this idea could help if he employed it in other parts of the town; it not only helped his community but kept business thriving in the area by preventing customers of his company from being turned off when they visited the town to wheel and deal.
“I couldn’t afford for Carpentersville to become Detroit,” he said.
Last year, the city had 1,042 homes in one kind of default proceedings or another, in an area with only 9,000 homes. Which has been keeping the man and his company — which has about $10 million invested in the homes right now — quite busy.
“I take the worst houses you can see and tear them completely apart and rebuild them,” he said.
It’s not about profit, he explains, which isn’t even something he’s aiming for or expecting.
“The plumbers make money, the electricians make money, everybody makes money and the people get a new home at cost,” he said. “I come out of it whole.”
Carpentersville’s village president says the plan has had a positive effect so far, with other homeowners getting inspired to improve their own homes. The city’s deputy police chief adds that crime has gone down as well.
Next up — the man plans on rehabbing storefronts and other commercial buildings in the downtown of the city right next to his. We’re not sure this counts as spreading the wealth, exactly, but it’s certainly spreading something good.