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From vacant to vibrant: Detroit businessman seeks to revitalize neighborhoods

Robert O. WIliams

Robert O. WIliams

By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen 

Robert O. Williams, a Detroit real estate agent, has a dream of revitalizing the neighborhoods in his home city. Williams seeks to help families move into refurbished homes block by block, restoring vitality to the communities. His program, Dream for a Dream, is based on the idea he can both do good for the city and for himself as a businessman.

“We believe we can sell our way to affect change,” says Williams. “We can do good business and do good at the same time. What makes it complex is you’ve got to make a commitment … to be a good professional so you can make sales, and you’ve got to make a commitment to be a community advocate.”

Williams’s own dream is to be able to take the revenue he earns from selling affordable, repaired homes to families and reinvest in buying another home, continuing the process by putting in the necessary work to make the house market ready before seeking responsible buyers. His hope is to be able to use his knowledge as a real estate agent to transform houses from vacant to vibrant, giving families the dream of home ownership.

Keeping the homes affordable and away from the reach of mortgage companies is his primary goal, having witnessed how these financial institutions have devastated neighborhoods through foreclosures that have left homes abandoned and vulnerable to blight.

“Once I get this money, I’m not going to spend it on my own needs, I’m going to spend it on the community’s needs,” he says. “Because it’s not a bank that’s doing it, you’re doing it.”

With home prices depressed to such low levels, the opportunity is present for buyers with available funds to invest in the city and their own future. Detroit currently faces many barriers to acquiring homes, including corporate speculators owning dozens of homes and keeping them off of the market until prices rise, filling neighborhoods with abandoned homes. The intention is to encourage homes being bought by families to add life to the blocks.

“It’s really a thing where I need to affect a better end,” says Williams, who has currently listed the fifth home in his Dream for a Dream program. “But I need a process to do it, that’s it’s meritocracy: It’s based on me, and not based on whatever the political winds are, or the economic winds are. It’s really based on my hustle and my grind. I like that.”

For more information, contact Robert O. Williams at 248.733.5108, or 

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