ArcDetroit / Planet Detroit
8:02PM Jan 28, 2022
community land trust
This idea that we were like, making this like new kind of living container, which like gather into it and band together and try to survive together.
Well keep keep going. Tell me more about that. So you were in New York City. Is that where you're from?
Yeah, well, I went to it. We should wait for guys. The other guys to show up. I'm happy. Do you mind if we record this by the way, just because
I ask you the same thing actually. I always record my interviews.
Oh, yeah. I'm glad to hear and we would love to have a copy if that's okay with you.
Yeah, I can. I can share the powder file with you guys. Hey, man. Amina Hadrian. How's it going?
Pretty good. Yeah. This week, it's been a busy one. Sounds like it. Yeah.
I feel like it's like starting to groove though or I'm getting my groove or something. I felt horrible the first like few weeks so they just like felt like it was moving through molasses and now I'm like, Alright, I got a handle on it. I think
I think I'm at that save Yeah, cuz I was I was still just skiing in the mountains for the first part. And then now
Oh, man, my first
couple weeks back. So I'm still you know, I think I'm I'm at the phase you're at probably
cross country skiing twice this week. So I feel like
that's what I'm doing all weekend. Up in the up north. to Diane family cabin up in the Manistee national forests like our favorite place to go.
That sounds so much fun. Yeah, enjoy them. Come join us if you feel like it.
I would love to
notice that will be hard. But Nina Do you and Andrea know each other from before?
Well, yeah, we've been working together on stuff different projects for like a year, I guess a year now maybe or longer even maybe, I don't know. I met him like he's the last person I met in person. For coffee before the pandemic started that way. That's pretty memorable. So somehow we've managed to stay in touch through this whole pandemic and we've worked on a few projects together. Um, while I was just getting called to spill spill, his origin story, so he wanted to wait until I think others are on the call too. But
let me remind Dame and send him a link. Okay. Oh, yeah. Okay. Because I also had to look for at the last minute as well. And that's just my origin story. Of course, everyone has their own reasons about why they are doing this work, which I'm really interested to hear you know, every time we are asked this question you, Adrian gives a good answer, and I never I didn't expect it from beforehand. I'm sure Dane will have a great answer. That we we didn't know about either. So
all right, cool. Well, why don't I'm not Paul, when you start you were kind of going so start with your origin story, and then maybe Adrian can tell me his what else started
Yeah. So I was living in Seattle. I was going to grad school and I met Adrian at the University of Washington. And afterwards, I ran this hacker house, I was like a manager. And I don't know if you know, this HBOs comedy series called Silicon Valley. It's about like startup life. Yeah. There's a Yeah, so like, there's a there's this character who runs this hacker hostel, and he's like, crammed into hackers, and they all work on companies, and he takes a share of what they work on. And it's kind of like a slumlord at high tech, comedy. And so my hacker house was kind of like that, except we didn't take a share of people's companies. It was like me and 19 college interns one summer, and so it's like really crazy time but fun. And then I live in cohousing before that and I thought like well, what if there was co living for people to work on projects together after you know they grow up and have families and they're no longer college students and so when I moved to New York City, I you know, Ran i Everyone does Airbnb in New York City. So I ran a community house and he will come and stay with me. And you know, at the time I wanted to buy because I stopped running that house and got too expensive and I and Adrian was telling me about all Detroit. How is, you know, much more affordable, a lot more startup energy, you know, people are doing things from the grassroots. They every time I would visit him, you know, his house would be remodeled like nicer and better floors and new painting. And to me that was Detroit. I was like, oh my god, Detroit's blowing up a because
and filling it up.
Because Adrian's blowing it up and so I pulled the trigger. I'm like, Well, if I want to buy I can't do in New York City. So I I moved to Detroit in October 2020. I lived at Adrian's house the one that inspired me that house rehab was possible. And I lived there for a few months and we looked at different properties we you know, applied to the land bank. We even submitted like city plans like a completely new building and eventually we found a house on Zillow and we closed on it last year. And that's our first house that we're working on as a as a community.
So you bought directly from a an owner and you didn't do land bank.
And the the owner that we bought it from is Damien who hopefully will join us. Okay,
got it. So when you say we like and this is your first house for the community like what does that what does that mean?
Well, for me, I guess I speak very aspirationally and part of my goals always been to build something that lasts longer than me so multi generational includes many people like anyone who wants to work on housing and build like a better living situation. Then, you know, I consider them part of the group even though right now it's just a few people. And so we right now just includes me, Adrian, Damien. There's a there's some housemates who live in the house right now. And they have been contributing a lot. There's Jacob, there's slim, there's Honda, and then there are a couple of like people who are peripherally like they're curious or interested. They've come to a few dinners and barbecues. And so So we I mean like, you know, the biggest sense of we is that we have a Community Investment Trust that continually sort of improves houses and helps people become first time homeowners and, you know, uplifts the neighborhood over time.
Your house, the close Adrian's house
Yes, pretty much walking. It's like a little bit of a walk but easy bike ride.
So is your is your focus kind of that neighborhood then? Right? I would say so. Yeah. Okay. Um, okay.
I mean, those are all my answers. And I I'd be interested in hearing sort of Adrian's responses to those, those same questions as well.
Yeah, Adrian, what how did you get involved in this idea?
Yeah, so yeah, obviously, obviously, me and Paul have known each other for a while so we're, we both kind of, you know, have a similar mindset of, you know, kind of working on you know, new ideas. And so, you know, I think that's definitely one of the things that has, has made, you know, has, like, kept us talking about things like this. And, you know, this is kind of one of the things that's come out of us, you know, sharing ideas and, you know, together that we both sort of aligned with aligned on a lot as far as like, why, what, what, for me, it makes this work like important and something I want to spend time on is like, a lot of it, you know, it's, you know, I mean, a lot of it connects with kind of a combination of like, my interest in like, you know, addressing, you know, issues of the environment and you know, climate change, but also just like creating a better environment where I live and I see myself like living in Detroit for a long time. Yeah, I love living here.
Why did you come here again,
what your, like four years ago, so like 20? Maybe late 2016 2017 27. Somewhere around there. Okay. Early 2017. Okay. Ah, for sure.
And so Adrian, I know what you do for a living, so to speak with your company and tech consulting. What do you do, Paul?
I teach online I teach computer science. And, and this is more of a full time. focus for me. And yeah,
okay. Um, and the third person Damien, if he What are you guys like? The three main like partners kind of on this project?
I would say so. Yes. And it's purely by investment of time and money. I think a fourth person came along and was really taking the initiative to point out properties and work on them we would consider them a partner to Okay, so I think he because I bought the house from him. He has multiple properties going I think he rehabs houses full time. He's
like a rehab house renovator. Okay, cool. Um, so I mean, obviously, this takes what you're what you're proposing takes a lot of sweat equity, but it also takes money. So are you like, are you putting your savings into this or kind of subsidizing it with your other work or how are you how are you able to have you looked for grant funding or loans or how are you thinking of funding out because the it's no small task? I'm sure. You know, the rehab a house in Detroit.
Yeah, of course. Yeah. So a little of everything that you mentioned. It is self funding from savings and then contributing, you know, money that I make on the side. And we have we apply for grants. So I aggressively apply from our from sort of the cryptocurrency Aetherium space. I was like the initial grant, really? Yeah, in 2019. I apply for grants and hey, I'd like to come to Detroit. I have this crazy idea. And Adrian graciously Adrian day and I graciously agreed to host this talk and dinner at their house. And you know, the house virtually.
Oh, I see like some crypto moguls house Tell me more.
No, no, you're there. It's totally gone where? There probably is we won't tell you. Crypto millionaires how they're in Puerto Rico or Singapore. Okay, far away. Okay, I gave this I gave this talk and I think it was universally pan. I think most people are like very skeptical about it. And not that I was booed off the stage but looks like God afterwards. So I was like, oh man like this is a am either too earlier I sound crazy. And but we received money to do that for this organization. And they have since become an inactive like that company. did not succeed. I think they're pretty much quiet down right now. Actually. Still, we we owe them a blog article or they gave us a few. It was like less than 1000 Maybe $2,000. And I was paying for like my airfare and like the food for the dinner and and we still have some of that money that we can reinvest into houses and so that's one source and then I know the city of Detroit has other sources that we are slowly figuring out and I'm less plugged into that scene. Okay, yeah, I can write grants for crypto nerds. But for city officials, I'm a little
Is this a thing? Can I write a grant to a crypto nerd?
Yes, yes, you can. If you are interested. I can show you links. And it's not just for right now that seems like NF T's and art and Dows which are decentralized autonomous organizations, which is what we are. We're like a democratically democratic organization that is transparently run online and there are grants for that people are excited about it. It is a little HYPEE I mean, there's a lot of people forming Dallas for all kinds of things like buying the US Constitution and really extravagant kind of show off. sensationalist things. I mean, those things are fun. And then there are people who are trying to do slow kind of more boring stuff like us, which I still think is exciting, which is like improving the housing situation.
Yeah, I would love to learn more about this. I don't want to spend too much time on it though. So the there was a cryptocurrency organization that gave you like a $2,000 loan and they their dark now but you still have their money, which is good. Okay. Tell me more. You mentioned this term Community Investment Trust. What what is that? Is that like a legal structure or is it an idea or what does it mean?
Yeah, that is a good question. So I was talking to Well, I mentioned before I've always been interested in sort of a community governance. When I was in New York City, and something living on past you and you know, one way to make something live on and make better decisions is to sort of outsource it democratically. And I found out later that's called the Community Land Trust. And, you know, this was started by African American farmers outside of Georgia and spread all over the world. And so I thought, well, Detroit needs a community land trust, and people have tried this before, you know, believe it or not, and one of them is started by the Oakland Avenue urban farm. North End by Jerry Hebron, who you may know and then James Lesko, I think, and a lot of other great people, Whitley Granberry at the Detroit Justice Center, who's sort of taken us on as sort of a pro bono legal client as well.
Okay, that's interesting. That's great. Yeah,
yeah, I think we can say that publicly. I mean, we choose they accepted our we accepted their engagement letter and there we have a relationship. Cool. So sorry, I kind of spaced on on the question. What is Community Investment Trusts? Yeah, what it what is trust
Yes. Is it a community land trust and essentially or what is it different?
Yeah, I think that a community land trust is tied to actual land. And an investment trust is is more flexible, so it doesn't you don't have to have land is sort of the primary asset backing what people are investing their sweat and their their funds into and James Lesko was very helpful introduced me to that term and I think there there's one other group in Detroit working on something specifically called the Community Investment Trust, and they're like investing in apartment buildings and and units.
in Highland Park,
I do not know i for i took notes and then I lost the nose. Unfortunately, James knows more.
James less goes with TJC right
now he's with Oakland Avenue urban farm and they are starting a land trusts called the Detroit cultivator Land Trust, okay. And they had a great meeting that I went to in November, I think, or October. And you know, like Sarah from the land bank was there and a lot of other groups interested in land trust in general.
So how is your what you're proposing to do or doing difference? or similar? Like what, what I just asked the question again, what is the Community Investment Trust? Is it an established like legal structure that you're aiming to create? Is it an informal agreement? Like what is is
a it is a legal structure, you know, Land Trust, you can legally is a nonprofit that holds land and steward it in perpetuity and has members and a board of directors and bylaws and so Community Investment Trust is like that, but not necessarily only holding land so for example, if you bought a building and renovated the building, or had you know many buildings everywhere and did not separate the land from it, you could be a Community Investment Trust, got it. Basically like a corporation that people can invest in, it's an investable. structure. So when you tell people like, give us $100, and we'll give you a share of this entity, that's what a Community Investment Trust is.
Okay. And does it exist? Have you established the the investment trust at this point?
We have an LLC in Detroit Justice Center is helping us draft the operating agreement for it. I mean, there's no specific legal structure called Community Investment Trust, you can implement it as an LLC as a cooperative Corporation, which is under Michigan State law is a specific kind of operation. You can make it a C Corp. It's more of how it's used and it's like an officially defined entity then.
So once it's established, will people like will you be able to receive investments through it and like, what will the process be for people to invest?
Well, so because it's democratic, I definitely have my opinion. But and I talked the most so I don't want to overshadow other people's opinion as well. When I say something is sort of the way I think it could work away. Okay. And right now, it's sweat equity, like people can work we're keeping track of each other's hours. And so you know, if you go to our forum you can see how many hours people have worked. And then you can lend money to the organization and at a certain percentage rate, that doesn't give you sort of voting power only like sweat equity gives you voting power, to decide like who to sell houses to. And I can I strongly believe I don't want to be taken over by outside investors because I hear these horror stories like yeah, may have heard the Bronx apartment fire where 19 people died. Yeah. And the people who own that is like this huge conglomerate that owns like 4000 supposedly affordable units nationwide, and they're making a lot of profits because government subsidies, I didn't realize how profitable was and so now, we'll hear like, we're doing affordable housing. I'm worried they'll think like, oh, you're one of those greedy people, and that's because the owners are separate from the residents. And so, as much as possible, I want to accept people's loans, but I want the residents to have the final voting power.
So that you're still kind of working out those details. There's no it hasn't been determined at this point exactly how you would accept people into the cooperative or accepts donations or loans or
whether to accept people in cooperative anyone can join our forum, and then they're automatically a member. You know, some people like me and Adrian have been working on it the longest and so we have sort of accrued the most hours but you know, there's a new member Jacob he's a housemate and he's quickly growing because he's living at the house and every day he wakes up, he works on tasks that we sort of outline, and so we want to show anyone that they can get started and reliably sort of contribute hours and have that be counted towards the future.
Okay, got it. Um, what? Who are the people so far? You mentioned I think like seven people who are housemates and are contributing with equity or whatever it is, Who are these people? Are they people that come came from the neighborhood, or are they people that moved to Detroit, from elsewhere or, like, how, how would you describe the people that already are part of what you're doing?
Well, I'll let Adrian start answering because he, most of these people are from his social circle, and they started his house. Most you mean well, I guess as far as like, currently, I mean, Damien was was going to be here today. I guess he didn't make it. He's he I think he lives right in the area. He's a long term Detroit resident, you know, it's live right area for I think his whole life, and then his brother Slim is living there. Okay. And then who else? Yeah, I mean, yeah, in terms of who else is currently over there. Honda is like friends of Diana, you know, she recently moved. She's from Michigan but recently moves back to Michigan and is living in Detroit. And then, Jacob the person Paul mentioned that he I guess he just saw posts from Paul online and like, got inspired to move over there from New York. So
okay, so it's kind of a mix of out of staters and and local people from the neighborhood.
Yep. Yeah. And I think yeah, and from something I've always felt really important for this to be is not just a bunch of people coming to try it because it's cheap or something, you know, and wanting it to be something that's like genuinely going to benefit people in Detroit in these neighborhoods and like make things affordable for people that already living here and are maybe at risk of you know, have a lot of issues like housing that's just falling apart and unsafe, you know, but yeah, that that to me is like a really important Yeah,
I wish I wish Damian could have made it because I would have liked to have heard his story. So I mean, I think as I mentioned, I'm, I'm trying this this piece is about kind of like the history of people trying to create these sustainable or equitable communities in Detroit and you know how they some of them have not, not gone well. And there's others that are people are trying to get off the ground. And so my question is like, yeah, like, how, what, if any lessons of you I guess my first question is, how has this been received by people who live there before you Okay, one
thing I could Well, I guess respond to that so I mean, for one yet, Damien. You know, and slim are both like they were like, I when I first met him, Paul had, you know, I kind of hadn't hadn't met them for a little while, but you know, and then I heard that Damien was like, you know, the guy you know, sold the house and I thought stuff that was cool but I you know, and then I went to the house at one point met both slim and Damien and they were just like, super super just like happy about the fact that like we bought this house and we're working on it. They were they just were like super nice and just like very excited about you know, just saying you guys are dope like um, you know, we're we love seeing you guys doing this and like actually like being here physically working on this, you know, which is actually a pretty similar experience that I had like on my block like a lot of my neighbors. You know, some had been there for like a fair amount of time working on summer long term residents but overall like my immediate neighbors, they were you know, I got I was most I was more concerned just obviously being like, on my block my area like the only white person anywhere around and obviously people took a notice to that. And, you know, and I was always worried about just the idea of people thinking, you know, just like seeing me as a gender fire or whatever, just having negative views towards me being there. But yeah, as far as what I learned was like a differentiating factor. It's just like, if you're physically somewhere in Detroit, like and you're like, you know, people see you as genuinely like wanting to live there and like, improve a house like that seems very generally like you're generally I always I've been positively received that and I think that's the difference versus someone who's just like, coming in to like, make money off flipping a house, right? And then like, he's actually living there. You know, whatever. Right. So anyway, I think that and then the neighbors I've met a few of the neighbors like I parked my car over there one time and again, that getting towed because I was like it was they were like redoing the street, but I was like trying to find it. Anyway, I met a neighbor through that and like this older woman, and she's just super nice and was just, you know, so anyway, had I've had a very positive experience just in general. Hi, Damien.
Are they born everybody? Sorry.
No worries. How are you? I'm Nina.
We're just talking about you.
Yeah, I'm doing fine. I hope everybody doing good.
Yeah. So I'm just I was asking everybody on the call. How you guys got involved and interested in this or I keep screwing it's Detroit arc or arc Detroit. Detroit, our college ecology see my brain is Friday afternoon and my brain is not working anymore. Um, yeah, can you would? Would you mind just telling me a little bit about like the story of how you got involved and what you're hoping to to achieve with the project.
Alright, well, I actually I actually got involved. Also a property that I was selling to Paul, and you know, I live around the corner so I was checking on the property, you know, always check on it to make sure it was still good and everything I saw him outside and not came up. We actually had a long conversation that day, we I was over for like, three hours or you know, a couple hours. Yeah. And he was telling me, you know, what his plans were, you know what this organization, everything that he was trying to accomplish as far as the revitalizing the city. You know, we have nice homes and just giving back. I think we touched on what he was saying was, you will be received better if you're a giver, instead of a taker. If you come here to the city and just want to take and, you know, you don't want to give back to the community. I think that's what he was, you know, we you know, he was iterating on Yeah, we're seeing a lot better. So, my views aligned with his views and with Adrienne views, and we just, you know, decided to make a partnership come together to just for the greater good.
Uh huh. And so do you. Do you rehab homes for a living?
Yes, I do. I'm actually at one of our newest properties right now.
Looks like you're in one of them right now.
Damien's a beast. He's always going at it.
Yeah, that's great. And so what is what is your role in the partnership? are you contributing labor or resources or are you living in one of the houses or how does how does it work?
Um, so I'm pretty much contribute whatever we need. I'm pretty I think we are can agree we all do that. We just contribute what we need. I'm not currently living in the house that we do have that was the house that I sold to Paul. But you know, who knows down the line? What type of arrangements we might actually have? Yeah, so.
So will you pause landlord is that what I heard or No, no,
no, I was selling the property. Oh, you're selling the property. He was a property. I've never met him on a process. I never knew exactly who he was. I just know
right. You live there beforehand. You were it? Was it a house that you had worked on in rehab already? Or
no for that particular house? I didn't start the rehab. ocassional process.
Got it. Cool. Um, well, I guess whoever wants to answer this next question. Take it like What What's your ultimate vision? For what you want to accomplish? Like what will success look like for you guys in you know, five years? I hate the interview question, but sorry, I'm gonna have to ask it. What what do you see what do you hope for in five years?
I'll answer last but I'm interested in hearing what Adrian and Dame hope to hope to see us do in the future to
our objects they're betting on. And five years I see. You know, us really building this organization. I think a common goal that we all share is just is is kind of a sense of autonomy. You know, people getting a sense of self sustainability, things like that. And just overall just know rehabbing just coming together. As a community just building up the city of Detroit because it really needed
Yeah, do you have like a number in mind like you want to rehab certain number of houses or you know, serve a certain number of people in the community, anything like that. Are you guys still kind of early for that? Kind of thinking.
I wouldn't even put a number on it. I think this many people we can touch as many people we can, you know, make a change for the better. I think that's that's, that's our main goal.
Yeah, and it seems like if you're able to demonstrate this, this model of this Community Investment Trust idea works and other people can either replicate it or become part of it.
Yeah, one thing I would I would add is just like I think a lot of us are in alignment with the idea that like, success is not necessarily measured in just like number of houses, rehab, right. It's more about how many people can we engage in this effort? And having like Damian San can be kind of autonomous, like have some level of like, doing what they're excited about making an impact that they feel good about, but also us all kind of working together and sharing resources. And, you know, as a group, we can do more than just everybody doing all this stuff. Totally separate individually. Right. Got it. Yeah, I agree. And, you know, I would say we want to keep on going we want to ride this thing until the wheels fall off. And then put the wheels back on. Whatever it was everyone else too. So yeah, to stop.
So they'll be they'll be another house potentially in that time frame.
Well, I would like there to be out. Next, you know, we have one house now we want to use the funds from that to keep going.
So as Adrienne says Adrian's house count as part of this or is that separate?
Um, yeah, I mean, in a sense of like, kind of I think it's it's aligned but it's it's not like going to be owned by the organization or any like I've maintained
Do you own your house but the organization owns the house of olives. And,
but I do intend to take some of the like, lot like, you know, as this model develops, like, there's a few lots that I own in my area, and I'm interested in potentially transferring ownership of one of those or, you know, into the trust or or the Yeah, and seeing you know, sort of, okay, that's something that would be cool. But yeah, I see it as like a lion in the sense of like, the model that we're sort of, you know, building in a lot of ways is kind of, you know, there's a lot of things that have happened in this house that have been good learnings. And also, you know, a lot of the folks that live here are really interested in what's happening to like, and, you know, especially on the side of, you know, we have like solar panels here and a garden and, you know, we have multiple people that are contributors to the house in various ways.
Yeah. Yeah, I wanted to ask about that is, is renewable energy and this kind of sustainability a key guiding principle of what you're doing or is it or not?
Oh, 100% I think, you know, Adrian can speak the most because, you know, I to answer the previous question I consider Adrian's house sort of this the spiritual ancestor of the project, like it was incubated. And, you know, when you asked about the seven people or so that were involved in Project heating, they mentioned the residents who were staying at his house who also you know, were influential and would talk to me and were very gracious whenever I gave the talk, you know, cream recorded the talk, and Tony humored me and went through the steps of like this technology I wanted to use. So, that's how the house is related. And yeah, I think Adrian Asal is one pioneering the most about solar power and gardening and regeneration and so a lot of my plans for the new house are taken from from him,
so you're hoping to get salt placed solar on it, and all of that
is something I'm particularly interested in, like, kind of, hopefully being somewhat focused on like, that's the part that gets me most excited is how can we like have like how can we make this so people you know, here can actually afford a house with solar like it's a great investment in terms of like, long term it totally pays off, and it's gonna get even as the energy prices are going crazy and whatnot, you know, energy efficiency, solar is like, going to be crucial for affordability but then the challenge there is a hoop you know, folks around here generally don't have the money. Just put that up upfront by you know, it's a big upfront, no
big upfront costs. That's the big problem and the utilities like it that way.
But I think there's so I think, again, this model could could help to alleviate that by having like full purchasing of your panels and then having sweat equity to install them because like, my, my system was way cheaper than like, I got quotes and they were crazy what people are trying to charge up solar in Detroit, but like, I did it with a friend of mine. And it was pretty affordable. Like it really wasn't and if we were able to bulk purchase all of that it would have been way more for like wait, like, really, really affordable. So I can interrupt briefly. I know there are people who are skeptical that Michigan even gets enough sunlight to make solar power. worthwhile. Like I know Damien was talking to him. He wanted to see numbers and I I totally get it like, I think one thing we can do is actually record and show numbers. And Adrian has actually gathered a lot of nice data. Like there's an app that goes with his hardware. And if we can show people that it is effective and you know that it pays off all your electricity in like a few years, then I think it would make a good case.
So I'm trying I'm trying to think of I'm trying to just like not poke holes but trying to like understand how it works okay, so if I'm if I'm one of these people is helpful, sorry.
Please do we welcome skepticism. It's like out ourselves
if I'm like, one of the people you mentioned turning over the names you said to Hannah was one of the names I think, Hannah. Okay. So like does handle it. She lives in one of the houses or he or she or they live in one of the houses. Yeah, okay. And contribute labor to it. And I mean, is there like, what happens if he needs to move to New York City? Does she have a way to cash out of the investment trust or?
Like, that's a good question. So right now it's just tracked on a forum. It's almost like consider like a spreadsheet that sort of tracked and there's no way for any of us to buy her out of her chair yet, but that would be a goal in the future. It is to recognize there is someone who actually moved to New York City there was what was Tony's friend's name? Summer. Oh, yeah, Summer, summer, wanting to move in at the same time as Hannah and there was a personality conflict. And so that didn't work out but she still contributed and her contributions are tracked in our forum and I still consider her to have like a share of the house like she Yes, she had she had contributed a lot personal energy. She had two dogs. I think under different circumstances. We would have been great housemates and she went to New York City, and we haven't talked in a while but I you know, part of the goal of us and our system, I think it is an advantage that it's we use technology and it's transparent is that you don't even have to check with us. You know, we don't even have to like each other although, hopefully we do like each other for you to believe that your shares are worth something and that you can cash out if you want or need to.
Okay, so a long term, there's no there's a thought towards having the ability to cash out. So I mean, a lot of the sounds like it's intangible, it's not it's not cash based. Obviously, it's time sharing and resources. But ultimately, you're you have to pay taxes and utilities. So there has to be some actual money. How does that happen? Like how do you allocate those expenses among the people in the Investment Trust?
Yeah, so it does sound intangible at the moment, but we do keep track of it numerically. So you know, right now it's hours worked that brings with it a lot of assumptions that everyone's hours are kind of equal, which I think we just decided that would be the more way we want to go with it. So it still track we don't know the value of it yet. And, you know, we're open to how to determine that in the future, whether it's like a market determination of a token or anything else. And then there's contributing money in addition to time and so we keep track of that in a spreadsheet, like how much each of us have put in and you know, we each time one of us pays for something like the trashcan or registering the LLC or something we record how much it cost. And then with the lawyers with Detroit Justice Center, we're working out an operating agreement, where it will legally say how to count what is in the budget of the house and you know, when the house is sold, or then where the proceeds go to like what counts as an expense who gets what share of the profits that remain?
Okay, I guess I mean, more like in a cash flow sense. I'm just I'm like, worried that nobody's gonna have enough cash to pay the taxes. Am I worried Am I worried for nothing or trying to understand like how that works?
We have well, you know, we have the savings to get it started. And you know, we actually are at a point now where we are we're actively seeking out investors or applying to grants to make up the difference so we had enough to get started and to pay for vital things, like taxes, and then they're like big expenses like the roof for example. Yeah, we are. We're on we're on pause for because we need to raise money or figure out how we're going to pay for that. But we definitely have budgeted things and are ready for, you know, vital things that like, like taxes.
So does everybody have a minimum amount they need to contribute financially or
or operating agreement that we've drafted, there is an amount that's specified.
Okay. So it'd be like enough to cover the basic utilities and taxes at least.
Yeah, so like, let's say the budget is, you know, the cost of the house is this amount and then rehab is a little bit more and then taxes and everything else. It's more so the total, we divide it up into how much percentage of shares people want or need and then that proportion is how much they pay. into.
Okay, gotcha. Yeah. So like, um,
one other detail, I don't know, just to make sure I think, you know, in case it wasn't clear, just to put out there is like the goal of being to sell these properties so then, you know, not to necessarily have this organization I think hold on to them more sell them at an affordable price. That's important to know to at first Yeah, to like a first time homebuyer or someone that otherwise might struggle to be able to afford a property. So yeah, so that so that's like a near term goal, I think is like within the next one to do within a one to two year type of timeframe to be able to sell the property. Okay, but then put it through a program that we all feel good about is like, directed towards people who are you know, yeah, that can kind of assist people that maybe may have challenges buying houses in other contexts,
like a community land trust. They don't they cap the value of the houses or forget how it works. It creates it creates like a limit right on how much you're exactly
right. Let's community land trusts have different approaches. One is a fixed formula. So they say every year that you're the house that accrues by you know, some percent say 2% And then when you go to sell the house, it's purely how long you've held the house that tells you how much you can sell it for right? People say it has to be like 30% of area median income, yes, recorded by the last US Census. Exactly. Okay, and their various percentages of blue 30% area median income, some people say 60% And we haven't decided Okay, which one of those I'm even
but something like that. I mean, some kind of affordability stipulation will be attached to like the deed or the transfer somehow.
Yeah, and that's actually pretty controversial because there are people and I get where they're coming from. They say, Well, I want to buy this house, make improvements and then sell it for however much the market wants, like, you know, my family wants to build generational wealth. And why would we Yeah, your system, there are more rules and I get where they're coming from it's, yeah, seem unfair.
Yeah. But there's also a need for affordable housing, and that's not likely to go away.
Yeah, Dania one. Curious if you had if you had some thoughts like about that argument as well, like if you were if someone wanted to buy a house, and there were restrictions on the resale of it, what how would you feel about that?
Speaking from the perspective of a home the home buyer, I guess you could have some type of concerns. But I think ultimately, the goal is home ownership. And when we say earlier, some sense of autonomy, you get that when you're a home owner. So I think yeah, I think I think that and affordability as well. And I just think that really trumps everything, and I don't think that the stipulations will be harsh enough to deter you from you know, step, you know, entering the program or any agreements that we will have. Okay,
cool. Um, what do you see as your biggest obstacles right now, I know you guys are all super positive and optimistic. But what are your big challenges at the moment? To moving forward realizing this vision?
Well, I mentioned one, which is that the the legal aspect of it is challenging for us like I, I even sort of enjoy legal learning about some of this and it's hard for me to sit down and really say, you know, what is reasonable or fair, and some and even the lawyers can help with with that. The Detroit Justice Center is very helpful, and they're donating time but they, they say you have to tell us what you want and we'll help you get it but we can't really tell you like what's fair or what you want. as well. I think the the most they do is I think they want to work with us, which is a good sign like we've told them our goals and they think that we're upstanding guys and and would be proud to work with us. So that's challenges, all these ideas that we've told you about how do we write it into a legal structure that
because it's one it's not I mean, it's it's novel, right? For the most part, nobody's done exactly what you're trying to do, even if they have done something similar.
Yeah, yeah. And that's one of one argument I've heard is that what we're trying to do is too complicated and, you know, it's, that is on me, I enjoy some amount of this doing something new like I want to be proud of doing something new but there's something to be said for existing like they're people who their house fixing co ops who just do a string, multi member LLC, and it's like, I agree, it would be simpler. So
yeah. So what's the what's the what would you say the big differences between you and a house? We have Co Op.
Well, I'd be interested to hear Adrian's takes I think he knows how suffixing co ops Yeah, yeah. I mean, I really just want to Yeah, I just Han actually Haanas friend basically, he hit him or his friend actually, we haven't met yet. But he just joined one that's operating locally, and he he lives in the area. So I just really want to learn about that. I don't know. You know, I've know a little bit about coal. I know things about coops I know they can be there's a quite a diversity of different structures. way they can work. So I definitely want to learn more about him. And I like, you know, it's possible we're kind of going in that direction in some respects. But I guess the way in my view, what sort of is somewhat unique about our model is it's, it's, it's sort of designed to be more decentralized, maybe then a traditional like, Co Op type organization with that are more like small group that just kind of building something together as a as a single, you know, tightly, you know, tight unit, if you will, and doesn't necessarily aim to make it easy for new people to plug in that may not be as invested as the core group, I guess. So. So I think in terms of challenges, that's obviously very challenging, like doing things that are like truly democratic. The trade off is it's just stuff takes longer and it's more complicated, I think. So that's certainly a challenge but it does feel you know, like, it's a worthwhile challenge. I think, you know,
cool. Damien, what about you? What do you think are the biggest challenges?
No, as we stated, as stated, it's a lot of obstacles and things but I just want to say that in many ways, we still will operate as a traditional business structure like a lot of our you know, a lot of what we do is going to be still traditional, but I think on the other half of that a lot of what we want to do is going to be unconventional, and I think that's pretty pretty much the biggest obstacle, but I think the intention is there, you know, and no, like we say, the payoff is, I mean, to me, is invaluable, like, I can't even put a price on it to me, so I certainly think that it's worth it and even if we don't accomplish all of our goals, we are certainly blazing a trail for people that want to do something like this to come after us. So for me, that's all that's all they really need. That's all they really need. You know, that's all they take. Got
it. So Adrian spoke a little bit about this before when Damien came on, but I just want to kind of circle back to, you know, I think we've seen a lot of projects in Detroit, kind of led by outsiders and either abandoned or not received well in the community, but still get a lot of resources from foundations and even even private sector banks and things. What do you what are you doing proactively to make sure that this project isn't, doesn't follow that path?
Yeah, that's a it's a good concern. Like I mentioned before the the Bronx apartment situation is, you know, outside investors not being aligned with the people who live in their buildings and their safety and well being and we definitely know that that's we want to be as far away from that as possible. So, I mean, one is reaching out to neighbors and, you know, it is unusual to go up to a neighbor and say like, Hey, we would like to hear your thoughts on what we should do with this building or the land around it. But you know, cultivating a black club, giving them ownership. I mean, in a community land trust structure, there's a percentage of the votes or you know, board of directors that you give to neighbors and then a portion you give to sort of governmental and faith based organizations or activist groups and then a portion to traditional capital investors and, and residents and the goal is to have sort of like these three different structures, three different groups of people, at least to hold each other in check. So like the investors will make sure it's running in a business like financially responsible way but the neighbors will make sure that you're not like dumping toxic waste on their front lawn and or, you know, selling it for condo development or anything like that.
And I think yet having sort of partnerships and relationships with like, you know, yeah, like groups, like all mentioned is super important. And, you know, like one I think group that we've, you know, felt, you know, is in a good relationship and some, you know, a guy named George actually like rented a met him because he rent he was my parents stayed at his Airbnb, but he runs a organization, community development organization, you know, 501 c three that called 360. Detroit, and it's just kind of like, dedicated to, you know, he's still kind of figuring out what the larger vision but they recently just like built a park right in my neighborhood. And that's super well used and the way they kind of arrived at that park was they like, you know, they just have a lot of community members. It kind of functions like a giant, larger scale block club or something. So anyway, yeah, he's, you know, George has been, you know, supportive of, you know, Detroit oncology
governance that you're looking at. What's that? That's kind of a model for engagement, not governance, but like engagement that
yeah, trying to have like, just like make sure that we're listening to what people in nearby area have to say and you know, okay, having
less question I just forgot to ask, have you had any engagement, positive or negative with what you're trying to do with the city or any of its structures like the land bank or city planning, development anything like that and house if so, how's that gone?
Yeah, well, I do want to come back because, you know, Damien is has been rehabbing houses, you know, in a cooperative with family for a while and I didn't hear from him from the previous question, but and then for this question, Adrian, I presented design for new construction to the City Planning Department for a property on empty lot near his house as well. So we did present to them and did receive feedback from them. And I'll let Adrian say more about that experience, too. Yeah. I don't have too much to add, I guess. The city was surprising. I was surprised by how receptive they were to like a non traditional kind of concept we had. And then yeah, yeah. That we will be proposed in that case, which is still something we're interested in pursuing on some of these vacant lots is basically building sort of like, kind of the concept is yeah cohousing type of model where it's just like smaller living spaces potentially with like some shared space but anyway, it was basically just like a multi unit construction. You know, that Yeah. So so they were even you know, that though it doesn't like, look like the rest of the neighborhood. Totally. They were still pretty open to you know, kind of, you know, they seem to open minded compared to a lot of other cities and contexts to like, sort of like more non traditional forms of housing, I guess.
Did it progress to any kind of approval or was it just a conversation?
Yeah, so it's called a pee pee. limitary plan review, if you are Yeah, so they effectively like gave us what I would call maybe like tentative approval where we basically had to modify like, what I thought was a pretty ridiculous aspect of it. It was just like, like, how many driveways you know, like, you need to have one driveway per
Oh, God really? Just
yeah, I guess that's a zoning thing. So really harped on that. Like it was just like, you got to do this. So it's like, okay, well, we'll just throw some more drives. But they basically just said as long as and then they also said you can only have so many trees. I think it's like 20 trees, otherwise it becomes an orchard Yeah. Because Paul drew a bunch of trees on their many trees. We definitely were not expecting that to be the main thing they criticize, but it's pretty funny
but anyway, Oh, yes. Okay. Did they understand your your business structure at that point, or really, they're just dealing with an LLC so they don't know like the details.
About the bid. They were just looking strictly at like a diagram of the not even a blueprint, right? It's just like more of a site plan. It's called it's just just a site plan.
Got it. Okay, cool.
I'd be curious what Damien has to say too. Yeah.
I think Damien had a couple of requests had a question back, which was, get into the issue. We're talking more about how to avoid about
the experience with the land bank, correct.
Well, you can tell me about that too. Okay. I'm curious about that for sure.
Reo. I will say, you know, the sentiment around the land bank. Some of their business tactics have been kind of controversial, especially with some of the residents and my experience with them. I would say, it hasn't been all that great. The property that we had right now. It actually took me I would say almost four years to actually secure this property. And I think that it could have been a lot smoother could have been it could have went a lot better. So I wouldn't I don't it this is my only time ever didn't win. Okay, but I will say my experience with them is not wasn't good at all. That's
an that's something with your your own business not part of the trade.
Well, I think the property that we might work on together, but yeah, it's it's not like for sure. Okay, got it.
Yeah, well, he's not saying a song at this moment. But you know, we tend to do the working out, you know, the details or whatever.
Anything else? You guys want to tell me about what you're doing?
I'll I'll go first. I definitely you know, if you are wanting to know if we have a message for your readers, we definitely welcome their collaboration. We have a forum at forum dot Detroit arcology orgy anyone can sign up for an account and you can I mean, then you will be you know, part of the organization and you can give us feedback, you can respond to posts, you can make new proposals of like, Hey, I would that I have this house and I think you should come into my neighborhood and, or, you know, can we work together on this and so we would love to hear to hear from people. Okay,
cool. Anything else? Any other? will you guys be around next week if I'm able to come down and take picture
Oh, yeah, I'll be I'll be
okay. I'll look at my schedule or see what's going on but maybe Milliken Friday or something. Or the following week. I think you've got two weeks on this. So I would love to get a picture of the three of you like in front of
a hologram of Paul unless you can well I'm in Arizona. You are I'm calling from a shipping container in the Arizona desert so sadly I won't be able to meet you in person but I can be photoshopped in
and now I'm not photoshopped. Why are you in a shipping container in the desert?
Oh, it is a there are there are some natural building techniques that I it's easier to do in the desert. They're like fewer codes to to follow and also I just love sunshine. And so yeah, yeah, this is where I'm in the winter but I will be back and I'm keeping in touch. You know, day to day. I'm still participating online and helping however I can but I'll be back in the springtime to Detroit.
wintering in Arizona. Nice. I want to do that. I'm cool. Yeah, I love Arizona. Well, you're from there too, right? Adrian Tucson.
We actually pretty funny I felt like we like discovered, you know, fairly long after we initially met that we let like his sister lives in Tucson. So it means all like hung out to someone time and it's funny. Funny. Yeah. And we met in Seattle, obviously and then then we're good. Yeah. So we're all over the place. I guess.
Awesome. Well, I really appreciate your time. Um, I'll probably have some follow up questions and possibly you might want to pop over for a photo but I'll let you know about that.
Yeah, definitely. I'm definitely around especially like what Yeah, Wednesday. So it's like I was thinking actually going over to the other house on Wednesday.
Okay, I look at one so thanks so much. Have a great weekend. I hope you get some good skin and thank you. And I hope we get some good desert walking in and all of that. Take care bye.
Yeah. It was great to meet you. You guys