When I first decided to become a business owner I had dreams of building and becoming the CEO of a major corporate company. I would build out to every state in the country, have thousands of employees, be an industry expert, and finally realize my dreams. I had spent 10 years of my life in real estate, went to every seminar, took every class, networked all over the county and learned everything I could. Working in investment real estate, more specifically, institutional single family rental homes (essentially hedge funds that purchase homes). I fell in love with the business first because of the Operation and economics, it was one of the most complex and logistical business operations I had ever encountered and I loved the challenge of consistently solving new problems.
I built a plan and started my company. Shortly after, I landed a major client, the type of client that would allow me to really build at scale and I was thrilled for the opportunity. We grew quickly, like nothing I had experienced before, I blinked and in just a few months had over 30 employees. The problems to solve were endless and the continuous push to gain efficiency was never ending. I was working at literally every waking moment of my day, sleeping very little, and riding the wave of a fast growing company, which I had always wanted. In 2020 it all came to a halt, the large client that we built had consolidated their business. one month after the news, the world shut down. COVID was here.
In this process I learned the most important lesson in my life. As we laid out plans for the future of the companies, my brain still fogged from the years of over working, I saw clearly what I cared about. It was my people, my tribe, the warriors who had fought beside me arm in arm to build MY dream. Who I had watched fight for our Haven Neighbors who lived in the homes and communities we led. When you love someone you will do anything in your power to protect them and make them happy and that is exactly what I tried to do. Faced with layoffs I realized that the cutthroat CEO that I always wanted to be was not me, I was not her.
As the dust settled and lockdown began I was left, a workaholic, to sit with way more time to think than I was comfortable with. On one hand there was logic, I have worked for 15 years to gain this level of experience, build this size company, have this type of infrastructure, so now I need to truly do it on my own. But something wasn’t right, I thought perhaps I was burnt out, overwhelmed by pressure, but I could not get myself engaged with the idea of starting a Fund.
My partner Dustin and I sat for days and nights talking and brainstorming on why I didn’t like the model. Then the truth hit, I wanted to build something I could be truly proud of, that my Tribe would be proud to be a part of. When I stepped back from working to look at what I had been working on, I now saw the pathway of the industry. As an operator I had witnessed rents increasing, competition over properties driving up values, and individuals from all different backgrounds and professions consistently struggling to find a home to live in that they could afford. I remembered answering countless calls or emails each day from families looking for a home that would accept their voucher or that their income would allow them to afford.
I am a pure economics person by heart, either it makes sense or it doesn’t and the more research I did into affordable housing the more the numbers just didn’t add up. These are our teachers, firefighters, waiters, delivery drivers, childcare, the backbone of our community, just take a look at their income vs average expenses and it’s easy to see. Don’t trust me? Just Google can anyone on minimum wage afford a place to live. Affordability was only the tip of the iceberg, I looked around at an economy, system, policies, that are all designed to hinder the growth and success of the people in our communities. To add to the odds are stacked against the majority of the people in our communities, this is not only those on minimum wage, in SC to afford any place to live you need to make over $17 an hour. The statistics were astonishing, once I fully saw the size and complexity of the problem I had to find a way to fix it.
I spent weeks researching, building models, studying structures and proformas. I built full business models, pitched them, tore them apart and started all over again. I got great advice and constructive criticism from anyone and everyone that would talk to me. Finally, I found the way I believe we can actually solve the problem of affordable housing. Sometimes you don’t understand the gravity of a situation until you remove yourself from it and inspect it from afar. This journey to Haven Home has transformed the way that I see my community, my friends and family, and most importantly, myself.
Housing can and should be a human right. The encumbrance that housing is placing on our neighbors is not only unfair but unnecessary. To accomplish this mission we will need the support of our community and neighbors to bring safe, beautiful and affordable homes that will help and not hinder our neighbors. Our team is passionate about giving back and making a change, join our Tribe in our mission to change the future of housing.