An abandoned home sounds and looks like the end, but it's a new beginning for Issac Lott.
"I was in prison for selling heroin," he said. "I ended up in prison three times … I was even shot three times."
After being locked up for 15 years, Lott is working on more than a deconstruction site.
"Tired of living like that. I want to have some purpose. I don't want that to be my legacy -- prison," Lott said.
He's been free for ten months and is tearing down abandoned homes and building a new life while ridding the city of blight.
"My cell mate in prison was in this program, and he told me about it when I was released," Lott told FOX 2.
The program that's helped him is called Detroit GreenWorks Solutions — a collaborative effort led by Southwest Solutions. It provides training on weatherization and deconstruction.
"I went through the program and I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot. It was hard because I hadn't been in school in 30 years," said Lott.
"It can be that they were drop outs, returning citizens, even the veterans," said Hector Hernandez with Southwest Solutions. "After they graduate, they've gone through a really comprehensive, ten to twelve week training tract. They've engaged with us from nine to five every day during that period. They've also been criminally screened and drug screened."
GreenWorks is funded by a $4-million federal stimulus grant. There are 38 programs like it across the country, and Detroit's is a model of success.
For people such as Noel Rivera, this means hope.
"I've been unemployed for about three years. I got laid off from my last job, and it's tough and it's rough," he said. "I want to make my daughters proud that their dad has a good job."
Rivera moved from Las Vegas to be in a program like this one. When he's done, he will be an ideal candidate for green employers.
"Guys that [are] coming out of the program [are] well rounded, on time and they [are] excited," said Darnell Jackson with AMPRO. "Going green is a good thing, and [being] able to employee [people] while we [are] doing it is even greater."
The deconstruction program isn't just putting people such as Lott and Rivera back to work. What's left of that abandoned house is going back to work, too. Shingles will be recycled into asphalt. Two-by-fours will be used to make new furniture, and bricks will build new homes.
"If the city [does] it, they'll probably wind up paying $6,000 to $10,000 to have a home [torn] down like this, and then they're going to have to haul it all out to a landfill somewhere," Jackson said.
"This could be used [to] grow vegetables. They can rebuild another house," Lott said.
So, his new lifestyle saves the city two times the trouble it simply can't afford to see more of.
"I've taken a lot away from the city, so I want to give back," Lott explained.
He is in a way that's also redefining southwest Detroit.
For More Information:
To learn more about GreenWorks Solutions' programs, visit www.dgws.org.