DETROIT – In the 70s Andrew Starks, a retired bus driver, noticed houses on his block were vacant -- so he started buying them.
He bought houses on St. Patrick Avenue in Detroit and rented them out for decades at rates that were below the market.
“He’s just a good person,” Lamona Bell said.
Bell said Starks is the father of the St. Patrick Avenue neighborhood. He’s now 96 years old.
“Mr. Starks is constantly helping people. Everything. Kids. Everything. He’s just a great guy,” Bell said.
Many people credit Starks for saving their neighborhood and homes.
He said he bought more than a dozen homes during the “white flight.” Homes that white residents left behind when they moved to the suburbs.
He said he had just retired from the City of Detroit as a bus driver and wanted something to do. So he purchased the homes. He either fixed them up, rented, or sold them way below market value.
“Well, they needed a place to stay and the homes were pretty reasonable,” Starks said.
Bell bought her home from Starks 30 years ago. She was pregnant at the time.
“I happened to go into labor at the time I was supposed to move in and he told me, ‘Don’t worry about it. The house is yours.’ He’s a great landlord. He’s there for any little thing. He’s out every day now,” Bell said.
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