Our Time Press debuted its first “Community Conversation with ….. ” at the elegangt Brooks Valley Cafe & Restaurant, last month with the dynamic, young Kenny Rushing, president and CEO of Rehabbers Superstore and House Hustlers Enterprises, Inc., who is also a nationally known motivational speaker and successful real estate businessman.
Mr. Rushing, 33, a native of Tampa, Florida, is bringing an empowerment message to communities of color through his motivational seminar, “God Bless the Child That’s Got a Home.”
Rushing is on a mission to “save the lives of young African-Americans and Latinos.” And to promote the message: there is “money in the hood” — in the form of real estate. Instead of supporting crack houses; own the houses.
When Our Time Press learned that Mr. Rushing was lecturing at the State Office Building under the sponsorship of Sen. David Paterson and motivational speaker/author Terrie Williams, we inquired if we could introduce him to some members of the Bed-Stuy family, including real estate professionals and local leaders.
Attending the breakfast meeting were: Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, Councilman Al Vann, Realtors Charles Atwell of Stuyvesant Heights Brokerage and Barbara Haynes of ERA-Petkoff Realty; Wayne Vaughan, Chief Financial Officer of Concord Baptist Church, Thomas Pope, Vannguard Community Development Association; Aminisha Black, The Parent’s Notebook; Phyliss Hurd, Bridge Street Development Corporation; Randy Waterman, Community Board 3; Doris Pinn, Community Board 3 and the Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Brooks Valley owners Charnaine and Chris Brooks.
The session included networking and comments from Mr. Rushing on his background and career, as well as a joint community/press question- and -answer session.
Rushing told the gathering that he especially targets young African-American males because “we’re losing too many to the streets,” says Rushing.
“Young people have to have the will and determination to do something different.” Councilman Al Vann noted that other young people were on the same track as Rushing was. “Got arrested. Got in jail. But they did not make the change you did. How do we get them to see the future coming?”
Rushing said that the key for him was education. “I was inspired by the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Because here was a man who spent seven years in prison and when he came out he was one of the most brilliant men in the world. He had a great socio-ideology. Many of us get caught up in recidivism because we don’t leave prison with any more than what we took in. You have to combine street knowledge with a formal education.
“Unfortunately, we are losing a great generation of entrepreneurs to the street. These guys on the street corners, ‘don’t stop what you’re doing, just change the product. Business is business.”
Earlier, we had spoke to Mr. Rushing about real estate and the business of buying low and selling high and how it fosters predatory buying, where attempts are made to purchase a house at far below market rates. He advised that “before you sell your home, you should always know the value. Ask other brokers, neighbors, check prices in the newspapers.”
Responding to a question about what kind of support system he had when he came out of prison, Rushing said, “When I left prison I went to a different city. When you’re trying to change your life, you have to get away from three things: people, places and things. You have to associate with different people. Be around people who provide you with hope and inspiration.
“The support came from my wife, Katrice, who has been there for me from the very beginning. You have to take the initiative to want to do better for yourself.”
Pioneer realtor Charles Atwell of Stuyvesant Heights Brokerage said, “What I do for people who come into my office, I advise them and other homeowners that every six months or so, look at the Department of Finance and see if you still own your house.” As an example he said, “It happened to my brother’s house, somebody else’s name was on it. He had to go down and get it straightened out. It happened to some of my property. There’s a lot of unfair things happening here and I advise people to check on their property at regular intervals to make sure their name is still there.”
Rushing was taken aback that this kind of thing could be happening in Brooklyn, “No, that shouldn’t be happening. Unless you have something different here in New York, but if you don’t sign a Quit Claim Deed or a Warranty Deed, transferring the rights over to someone else, then either the Property Records is having some errors down there, but that should never be happening at all.”
“It was not an error,” Mr. Atwell assured him. ” Let’s say, if I take your house, I’m down at the Department of Finance, and I take your name off and put someone else’s name on it. Now, I don’t do anything with it for a year or so, if you don’t complain about it, they turn around now and sell that property to the third party.”
Rushing was amazed at the ferocity of real estate in the Brooklyn waters. “See, that’s where I have to be educated,” he admitted. “I’ve never heard of anything like this. How do they do that?”
Annette Robinson spoke about how in her community hearings she’s heard and responded to these kinds of problems. “It is a major problem in the Brooklyn community with the Quit Claim Deeds. People do it. There’s a lot of fraud going on with predatory buying. There are some complications in our community in terms of the sales and buying and theft of property.”
“I’ve never heard of anything like that in my life,” Rushing said. “That’s a political issue.” City Councilman Al Vann commented that his focus has been on “bringing resources to local non profits such as Bridge Street Development, the Brownstoners, Bedford- Stuyvesant Restoration, so they can combat predatory lending and other types of illegal things that can occur, that’s my primary interest right now. And there is a lot of education that needs to be done. If we can educate the community, the block associations, that this is going on. Before you sign anything, there should be someone you can go to.”
Realtor Barbara Haynes noted that Rushing had spoken about his wife, and asked to hear from Katrice Rushing “about how she believed in you.”
Katrice responded, “I met him and we started talking and I could see the kind of person he was. I had no hesitation about his being in prison. Everybody deserves a chance to better themselves. His mom had really put morals in his life, as far as getting out there and taking care of himself. He was very aggressive about getting a job in Tampa, and trying to better himself. I saw that he was making an effort for himself and our life, and we did get married.
“He’s always had the ingenuity to do things, and a vision I never guessed was there until I looked at some of the houses that he’d taken and remodeled. He brought us to our first house that we lived in, I thought it was called the Spooky House. It had holes in the windows and everything. I said, ‘Okay, I’m putting it in your hands. It’s up to you. I have the faith in you that you’ll do what you say you’re going to do,’ and he did it. I’ve always believed in him and never doubted him so I said tell me what you need me for, I’m here.”
Of note: The Rushings are completing work on their new $4.5 million dollar home.