Meeting everyday heroes can change the trajectory of your life

Meeting everyday heroes can change the trajectory of your life


I blogged in the past about how the idea of the Cook County Land Bank Authority gets me all charged up about the possibility of growing my holdings as a landlord.  This week I had the exciting opportunity to see how it works with a real-life example. Up close and personal.  I attended an open house for CCLBA’s 200th rehabbed property.

There were a lot of big names in attendance.  Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, CCLBA Chairwoman and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer and CCLBA Executive Director Rob Rose were there.  They made great remarks and shared interesting information.  I’ll tell you some of the intriguing things they said in another post.

But the person who connected most directly to my experience was the owner/rehabber herself, a young African American woman by the name of Bridgette Washington.  Her purchase of the single family home at 6638 South Artesian was her very first real estate acquisition.  The subsequent rehab she facilitated of the property as she prepares to add it to the much needed stock of affordable housing in Chicago (and her plans to work on more and more projects) earns her the fancy title of “community-based real estate developer.”

Standing there on the lawn of this beautifully rehabbed home, listening to the remarks of the speakers, and thinking of all the possibilities made me reflect on the path I took to becoming a buy and hold investor (most people call them “landlords”).  The books I read, seminars I attended and fleeting conversations I had, though long forgotten, were all subconscious building blocks leading me to take that giant leap and make my first real estate purchase fifteen years ago.  Even though there’s no way to inventory and credit all the factors which brought me to one of the biggest decisions of my life BY FAR, I can remember some specific milestones.

Growing up I didn’t know any real estate investors.  When I was 24 years old, I attended one of those investing seminars you learn about from tv infomercials.  No matter what people say about the questionable value of some of the products and services they sell, there is no denying these types of events bring you into contact with other individuals who think–and live–outside the box.

I remember meeting a 28-year old single African American woman who owned and managed a 2-flat building on her own.  She was like a rock star to me.  Despite all the hoping/dreaming/planning, this was the first time I was standing face to face with a live person who looked like me and was already doing the things I wanted to do.  I will always remember the feeling of that experience.

I can already sense that this open house I attended will be another one of those watershed moments for me.  For that reason, I was excited that Bridgette Washington agreed to talk to me more about what brought her to this point. Stay tuned for my one-on-one conversation with Bridgette where she shares what it was like to go from a career in sales to becoming a community-based, first-time developer of affordable residential real estate in Chicago.  And I’ll share more details about what makes the CCLBA enterprise so unique.


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