Smithsonian Magazine

In Detroit, many of the brick mansions built in the boom days of the auto industry have fallen into neglect and disrepair. Even just a few blocks from the construction site for the new Red Wings stadium, houses are gutted and crumbling. But in those rundown historic homes, Andrew Colom and David Alade, two college friends with an interest in urban planning and social justice, saw an opportunity.

Alade who was working on Wall Street had seen renters priced out of the neighborhood where he grew up in Jamaica, Queens. Colom, who has worked in real estate in Mississippi, thought that more equitable urban development could be a way to revitalize communities. Two years ago, the two Columbia University graduates decided that they would renovate houses, turn them into affordable housing and shake up the traditional housing model in the process.

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