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Real estate development program aims to help veterans, uplift underserved communities

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An aerial view of the city of Arlington.

A North Texas veteran is working to empower fellow service members and underserved communities through a real estate development program. Rehab Warriors is partnering with the city of Arlington on an initiative called “Rebuilding the Fort.”

As a U.S. Marine, Andy Williams knows first-hand how difficult it is to reacclimate to civilian life after serving in the military.

That’s why he founded the group Rehab Warriors. He had two goals in mind: to help veterans entering the workforce and promote economic mobility in underserved neighborhoods.

"We're leading with the veteran,” Williams said. “We feel that our safe haven is our embattled communities. We feel that if we rebuild the worst part of the neighborhood and we make it better, then we'll have a better life, will have better opportunities.”

Williams’ organization is partnering with the city of Arlington on an initiative called “Rebuilding the Fort.” The program will train 20 local veterans on the ins and outs of affordable real estate development. Then, those veterans will work with residents in what's called the Central Arlington Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area.

Located northwest of downtown, this area has a household income about 62% lower than the city's median. Veterans will help rehabilitate old homes, tear down those in disrepair and construct new ones.

The veterans in the program will also help educate residents of the area about the benefits of home ownership, and help empower them to buy a home if they decide to.

"We are going to connect with the community in the same way we connected with the community in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Williams said. “We're going to serve them. We're going to empower them. Then we're going to work with the city to bring the resources to those communities.”

Williams says they'll choose the veterans taking part in the program before the end of the year, with a plan to start training in January.

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Got a tip? Email Rebekah Morr at You can follow her on Twitter @bekah_morr.

Rebekah Morr is KERA's All Things Considered newscaster and producer. She came to KERA from NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a news assistant at Weekend All Things Considered.