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Highland Square

I really wish I had the money to be charitable.

As I drive around my area, I see a lot of houses for sale and even more that are being foreclosed upon. These are houses that are usually worth three or four times as much as their sticker price. I think there is an opportunity to help, I mean really help some homeless/struggling people get back on their feet and at the same time populate houses with people who would care for them and appreciate them for the shelter they provide.

My thought is to purchase a bunch of houses that are in decent condition, to be divided up into three “stages” of housing. In the first set, the houses would have all of the basic amenities (utilities, appliances, furnishings) but instead making the bedrooms secure like a home would be. The basic rooms such as the kitchen, living room, dining room, and laundry would be left as common areas to share. Any extra rooms the house had would be converted into additional bedroom areas. The idea here is to bring a person in off the streets or about to lose their home and give them a place that they can call their own, their room. The rooms are rent free. As the person gets back on their feet, he can start paying rent. Again, “rent” won’t be set in stone. The thought here is to get back into the mindset of paying money towards bills. As the person stabilizes and is able to contribute regularly towards rent and utilities, they can then move into the second “stage” of housing.

For this set of houses, my thought is to renovate older homes that are in states of disrepair. Since they are beyond the normal scope of fixing up, they can be fully renovated to fit to our purpose. These homes could be modeled into mini apartments. Each “apartment” would be it’s own separate place. Again this is transitioning a person back into supporting themselves entirely. In this stage, there is no longer forced socialization. With a living area to themselves, they will need to work on building a network of people to continue getting back on their feet. The apartments would be furnished with all of the basic amenities as in the previous “stage”. As the tenant continues to pay regular rent and progress to paying a rate comparable to market, he would progress to the final “stage” of houses.

These houses are geared to being forever homes. In my mind, they would be decent homes that are just shy of being deemed as “in great condition”. Homes that just need a little TLC. Again, these would be furnished with the basic amenities, minus any the tenant might have acquired. As the tenant moves into the house, it will be established what changes and repairs need to be made to bring the house to “great condition”. As the tenant continues to pay “rent”, it will be put towards purchasing the home. The tenant has the responsibility to renovate the home as stipulated when moving in. After a set amount of time and after all of the repairs and changes have been completed on the home, the “rent” that has been paid will be put toward the purchase of the home. I think this will allow the tenant to develop a sense of pride in the home they are getting, knowing they fixed it up. Put their time and hard earned money into it’s revival, thus hopefully ensuring their continued desire to maintain it.

I know there could be a lot of holes in the plan. What if a person doesn’t pay rent ever in the first stage? That’s okay, because for every one person that does not pay rent, you hope to have three that are really trying to get back on their feet. And even if they aren’t trying, at least they have someplace warm to stay. What if they stop being able to pay rent in the later stages? Perhaps move them back a “stage”.

I don’t know. My thought never directly revolves around money. I really only need it to make my idea happen. In an ideal world, homelessness isn’t an issue because charging people for the basic necessities of life is practically criminal. My thought is that there are probably enough people out there who just got a rough break and need a helping hand to get back on track, enough people that will start paying as soon as they can, enough to make it worth it. Why not try to get them started? Even if a person never moves past the first stage, at least that’s one person who isn’t outside and feeling alone or forgotten.