A Michigan pastor is reviving a neighborhood one house at a time.
Arric Wilkerson, pastor of Up From The World Ministries, started renovating houses in his Detroit neighborhood a decade ago after noticing the blight surrounding his church.
“We were driving through this community on a daily basis, we saw these homes that were abandoned and some of them were empty and some of them had squatters in them,” Wilkerson told The Detroit News. “We started renovating them one at a time.”
Wilkerson’s church bought 25 homes and 15 vacant lots, some of them for $500 and $100, respectively. The houses were boarded up, gutted and missing appliances but the pastor saw their potential.
“When you look at a house like that, you go in the basement and look at the foundation,” he said. “If the foundation is good, then you can restore the house.”
Each finished property sports a placard with the tagline “Bringing the Neighbor Back to the Hood.”
While the houses were being finished, Wilkerson sought tenants from his congregation and gave them an offer they couldn’t afford to refuse: $500 per month rent. He also hired some of his parishioners for carpentry, painting and other home improvement jobs.
“The rental payment is only $500 per month and our members are afforded an opportunity to live in a fully renovated home at a minimum cost, which is a great thing for their overall household finances,” he told Rolling Out in 2017. They also get the benefit of knowing all of their neighbors, which creates a wonderful living environment, free of gang-banging and drug dealing.”
Wilkerson doesn’t plan to raise the rent at all, and he doesn’t accept incentives from the government.
“Instead of taking the money to the bank every Monday morning, we would bring it to the block,” he said. “It really wasn’t about making money. It was about restoring this community.”