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By Jesse Coombs

In May of 2005 I bought an apartment complex that needed work knowing that distressed properties have the most opportunity for upside on investment. Not living in the area, I did not realize was that is was called ‘felony flats’ and was on the police department’s top 5 list of trouble spots in the community. When it became clear to me that the problems were epidemic and deep-rooted, I decided the only way I fix the problems was to live at the units and work 14 hours a day 7 days a week on resolving it. It was four months before I felt that I had made enough of a change to head back home and entrust the continued improvement to an on-site manager with my guidance. The local paper, The Daily News, decided to write an article on how things have improved in this part of town, and highlighted my units as one of the prime examples. Turning this complex around was one of the toughest things I have ever done in my life mentally, physically, financially and emotionally. I am glad to know I am past the worst, and the work to improve the complex continues.

An interesting side note is that less than four weeks from moving back home I joined Ben Stookesberry for the epic journey that became Hotel Charley I, and won us the National Geographic Adventure Hero award for 2006.

Here is the link to the story:

Also, I received a very nice email from a woman living and working in the area that I thought would be good to share.

"I just read the article on your clean up efforts in Kelso WA, and I just want to say thank you for your hard work and dedication not only to your investment but on a global level to the community. I am a juvenile probation officer in Cowlitz County, and I cannot tell you how much a safe place to live affects the pysche of the youths that I work with. I have spent many many trips to homes and apartments that always require a partner based on how unsafe the residences have become. We have driven past your apts many times and commented on the difference in the apperance and I am glad to hear that it is not just the aesthetics….its also the soul of the people living there. I understand not wanting the kind of education that you got regarding picking out addicts, but at the same time, its good to see people not in this kind of work have a sense of what goes on outside of what is known to them. I wanted to extend an invitation to you to see the Juvenile Dept any time you are available, and again thank you for investing in this community."