2 men who moved to Detroit to transform dilapidated homes get HGTV show

Posted at 6:55 AM, Jun 11, 2021

(WXYZ) — A quest to transform dilapidated Detroit homes into livable properties is being featured in a series on HGTV.

The men behind the project say they're doing it one block at a time.

Their motto is "turning trashed properties into treasured homes," and they say they've worked on 22 different homes, all in bad need of repair.

Evan Thomas and Keith Bynum might not be the people you think would be fixing up these homes. One is a physicist with a PhD and the other is an MBA graduate.

"Evan and Keith, they were willing to do the work," Pastor Semmeal J. Thomas said.

Thomas lived next door to one of the properties they fixed up, which he said was vacant for at least the last 12 years.

"The first two years that we lived here, we heard water running all the time," Semmeal said.

But in a mere months, it went from run-down to revived.

"There's the whole reason I do this is that dramatic transformation. I love seeing something that is completely falling apart and forgotten and bringing it back to life," Bynum said.

So much passion for their work, Bynum and his partner's projects caught the attention of production companies on Instagram. Now they're the stars of the HGTV show "Bargain Block."

They buy homes in Detroit on the cheap, live in them while fixing them up and then sell them.

"We like the thousand-dollar houses. One because they're very cheap, but also, because I think that it can really have a big impact on a neighborhood," Evan said.

Particularly neighborhoods with multiple abandoned homes they can buy in bulk and transform.

"I really try to make sure each house is as unique as it possibly can be, by building up the design and all the things that kind of make a house a home," Bynum added.

The two relocated from their home in Colorado four years ago for a challenge they say was too good to pass up. Local realtor Shea Hicks-Whitfield advises them on pricing and deals.

"What I love about it is, it shows the world that there is good in Detroit," she said.

Hicks-Whitfield said it's also a great opportunity for those looking to buy their first home.

"Who may even be renting the home next door for 1,200 bucks when they can own this gorgeous, virtually new construction completely like, upscale design, completely furnished home for 600 bucks a month or less," she said.

Bynum and Evan say the overall feedback from residents like Semmeal has been positive, but for those leery of so-called outsiders changing things up, Semmeal said it's whatever it takes to fix up the homes.

"It's going to take people that value what we have, no matter where they come from," he said. "The other thing about it is it starts to set a culture. Other people start seeing it. and they start saying 'you know what? Let me put my fence up. Let me fix my flowers."