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Exploring Life & Business with Dr. Tori Brown of Fresh Community Development

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Tori Brown. 

Hi Dr. Brown, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Me and my mom moved to Tampa Florida in 2015 shortly after my dad passed away. We moved to Florida because we wanted to experience the sunshine and start over. The weather is great, the laid-back atmosphere is better, and the opportunity to reset my business was even better here in the sunshine state. As a first-generation college student, I became the first one in my family to go on and receive a PhD in psychology. The people I meet often congratulate me on that accomplishment. I’m thankful yet, I am most thankful for the opportunity to accomplish things for my community. When me and my mom moved to Tampa, we started a family business that helped others to start and grow their businesses. After a couple of years of business, we went into real estate education for new and existing young real estate investors. We knew that it would be important to train and develop new business owners and investors that would build up the community they live in. Shortly after the pandemic started in 2020, I wrote a book called Acid Reflux: How To Stomach This Economy. This book opened the door for the work have already been doing in the community with our non-profit organization called Fresh Community Development Inc. The mission of this non-profit organization is to provide cost-effective resources to low-income families in need of financial and business literacy to improve their chances for access to housing or homeownership. During the pandemic, our organization helped to create 47 new homeowners. In turn, 80% of these homeowners went on in our program to become real estate investors to rent to others just like them that wanted to repeat the process. Now we had data, results, and a system to help people become homeowners and real estate investors. 

Well with all of the success of the new homeowners, we created the program now officially known as The Homeownership Depot. This program was piloted in Detroit Michigan where I am from. We enrolled 8 couples and 19 individuals in November 2021. In addition, in 2021 on New Year’s Eve I released another book called The Color Of Homeownership: Increasing Wealth in Black and Brown Communities. I saw a need to help people of color to close the wealth gap by engaging them in opportunities for homeownership and then real estate investing. What better way to fight gentrification than participation in developing living spaces in our communities. All of this has been accomplished by never leaving my home. Since the pandemic, my mom and I have not been into our physical office in almost two years. I stop by from time to time to check the mail but we make a difference from the comfort of our home. I have declined face-to-face meetings, interviews, and cut filming for a documentary that was being filmed prior to the pandemic. Without leaving the house we have facilitated virtual workshops, meetings, purchased real estate, sold real estate, built a new house, provided courses, met with celebrities via zoom, hired, fired, held group meetings, wrote books, published books, sold books, created marketing content, just about everything sitting behind the computer screen. We are blessed that our work is making an impact on our community and very thankful for the people that do go out in the field on our behalf to make things happen with us. Today, our goal is to continue to enroll people that are looking to become a homeowner into our free course, continue to serve our community with our non-profit services, and start our building development project. Yes! That’s right, me and my mom have gathered a team to start the purchase of land so we can get our feet wet as Real Estate Developers this year. Will that require that we leave the house? It already has because we have been out driving and looking at land recommended by our team of real estate professionals. We have not found the right place yet for our non-profit to build on but we are looking and will find the perfect place we need to be I’m sure of it. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I think the ride has not always been smooth, however, every ride has been necessary. The obstacle that has created the strongest barriers has been the pandemic. We had to move fast and think fast on our feet because of the shutdown. During the pandemic, we had to cancel a lot of our scheduled events and services. However, what we accomplished with this barrier is the ability to strengthen our other areas in automation and creating interactions using virtual technology. So today we are fully virtual. We meet via zoom and hold conferences and workshops via several different technology software. We have increased our interactions on social media. I have truly learned to pivot in my business and my social life. I personally spend less time going out or traveling. The best entertainment for me is the use of technology that I get to develop along with a technology company in which I am a managing partner of. We create content, services, and products via Augmented Reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). These technologies are developed and beta in direct interaction with the work I do in business development and real estate education. It’s like working and having fun at the same time. It’s time for more disruptive innovations in the space of both business development and real estate education. So, I have been continuing to turn the barriers of this pandemic into something successful. 

We’ve been impressed with Fresh Community Development Inc, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Fresh Community Development Inc is a non-profit recognized by the IRS as a 501 C3 organization. The mission of this organization is to provide cost-effective resources to low-income families in need of financial and business literacy to improve their chances for access to housing or homeownership. We are incorporated in Florida, Michigan, and Georgia. We started our work in the Fall of 2019 when we provided home retention services for an elderly lady in Florida. She was facing a home foreclosure due to a previous loan modification that fell through with her previous lender. The board of directors is all business owners. We donated financial resources and labor to hire contractors to repair the home to restore the use of her bathroom toilet and bathtub. In addition, we hired an attorney to help negotiate the terms for a new loan modification so she can stay in her home. We also provided her with credit repair services and business development services. In 2020, during and throughout the overlay of the pandemic we were able to successfully assist 47 people to become new homeowners. We facilitated this by providing free credit repair services, financial literacy, business development services, and money management strategies. This process was facilitated by partnering with realtors, mortgage lenders, lawyers, investment property lenders, tax professionals, and business consultants to help these clients step by step. 

In 2021, we created several programs related to housing and real estate education. The Ownership Depot is a program designed for people who want to become real estate investors in their community. We have partnered with several companies in the area to provide the resources needed to start and help the company become funded in real estate development. This program carried over its exposure to another program developed that same year called the Homeownership Depot. This program is designed to help program participants become homeowners and real estate investors in their community. I also wrote a book called The Color of Homeownership: Increasing Wealth in Black and Brown Communities. You can read my recent Kirkus review about this book at https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/tori-brown/the-color-of-homeownership/ 

This book released New Year’s Eve in 2021 became part of our program Homeownership Depot. We use this and the other previous title Acid Reflux: How to Stomach This Economy as course material to increase both homeownership and personal net worth. Fresh Community Development Inc can see a need to increase net worth in specific populations and believes that our program has all of the tools and resources available to make this happen. We are already known for our mission of helping people access housing and homeownership and want to go a step further to make sure our participants are growing in asset development and personal wealth. It’s one thing to help someone get into a house, it’s another thing to help them stay in that house, in addition to helping to provide housing for others. This is what I believe and know that sets us apart from the others. Realtors sell you the house, mortgage professionals get you access to the money for the house, the housing education program gives you the information to get into the house and maintain the house, but who is responsible for making sure that the buyers are growing their personal net worth so they can keep the house and help provide living spaces for those in their community that need to rent a place to stay. Tampa Bay for example has a shortage of housing, period! There is a shortage of section 8 housing, a shortage of 55 and older community housing, shortage of assisted living, shortage of housing for the elderly, a shortage of housing for the students, it’s a shortage of housing for families. There is not anyone doing what we are doing as a program to increase access to both housing and homeownership. What I am most proud about our brand is how authentic we are. You will not see us on social media sharing gimmick-like content to engage our clients. We do not ever have to compromise who we are as a non-profit because we do not see this work as a place for sales. We see this work as a place for engagement and introduction. For example, the average person does not even know how to calculate their personal net worth. We provide that information free on our website under resources for anyone to complete their form and it computes your current net worth. Users do not have to fill out any information to calculate their net worth. We just want users to have access to that so they can do something different and contribute to their net worth. They come back in 6 months and see if their net worth increased, decreased, or stayed the same. I want our readers to know that Fresh Community Development Inc wants to help people become homeowners. We have a program built with our relationships with realtors, lenders, attorneys, financial advisors, business developers, real estate developers, and credit consultants. We have everything a person needs to become a homeowner and real estate investor within a year. We offer a free online course for anyone needing some information to get started with their homeownership process. All they have to do is text “NoRent” to 1-888-697-0965. 

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
People ask this question all the time and we are thankful every time for the consideration. If you are a realtor or any other real estate professional and want to work with us, we recommend that you purchase a copy of the book The Color of Homeownership: Increasing Wealth in Black and Brown Communities and learn best practices on how to engage your buyers. This book is available in both English and Spanish. Then visit our site and purchase bulk copies of the book and set up groups and meet with your potential buyers and educate them about the home buying process with strategies from this book. This is how these professionals can best collaborate with us to help increase homeownership in our communities. To support future homebuyers, I recommend that you purchase multiple copies and give to your clients. Let’s work together to normalize homeownership in our community. Visit our website for more information about the book of the Big Give Project to increase homeownership for single mothers. www.freshcommunityinc.com 

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Rick Tauceda

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