WATCH: Memphis Veteran Flips Run-Down Properties to Create ‘Safe Houses’ for Needy Families

Memphis, Tennessee, has experienced a lot of problems, but one man is determined to see things change for the better.

Ten years ago, Ben Owen, the CEO of the Flanders Fields nonprofit, used to buy drugs from a home in the city. He was later kicked out of a halfway house, drug court, and ended up homeless, ABC 24 reported Friday.

However, the Army Infantry veteran has since recovered from those hard times.

“I figured if I could run 70 safe houses in Afghanistan, we could probably run some safe houses in America. I’m coming right back to the street that broke me and try to help other broken people from the exact same place I started,” he said.

Y’all tune in to ABC24 Memphis at 5 and 6pm tonight for some cool stuff! Me and my brother Brad spent some time with my…

Posted by Ben Owen on Thursday, March 2, 2023

He started the nonprofit with an initiative called Operation Buy Back the Block. Leaders find homes in heavy narcotic trafficking neighborhoods, contact the owners, and try to purchase them.

Once the properties have been flipped, those working to defeat addiction and homelessness will be able to live there rent-free. The first person they want to serve is a single mom who is also a veteran.

Owen said the group wants places for people who have gotten sober to call home so they can care for their children in safety.

In a social media post February 9, Owen shared a photo taken inside a home with a severely damaged ceiling. He said most people would see it as a rundown dope house. However, he has a different perspective.

“What I saw here today is an opportunity. To take that which was used for evil and transform it into something for good, and BIG good, at that,” he wrote:

Perspective is everything. Everything.To most, this is a rundown dope house in a real bad part of town.To the old…

Posted by Ben Owen on Thursday, February 9, 2023

“With the help of some amazing folks, we’re legit trying to scoop up every single vacant house on this block, rehabilitate them, and then use them to house vets, trafficking survivors, single moms, and any number of other folks going through various recovery programs we work with,” he continued.

So far, Flanders Field has acquired four residences located in South Memphis for the project.

Owen is grateful to be serving others, saying the work is what keeps him sober.

MAJOR UPDATE: #buybacktheblock just closed on the first house in Memphis! Broken folks who have found a better way leaving dope and violence behind to walk others out of hell and give them the tools to live a better life is what this is all about.This house will most likely house single mothers in the Veteran's Court program here in Shelby County to make sure these brave women can keep a stable roof overhead while they turn their fortunes around. Lots of work still to be done, but you all helped us get to this first milestone. This is definitely a marathon and not a sprint, so if you want to help even more visit the links belowOr message us if you want to donate materials, time, or skills!

Posted by Ben Owen on Thursday, February 23, 2023

People who move into the homes will volunteer with the group, and Owen hopes to have their first home ready to house a family within 90 days.

“Make the street I called Hell a place I’d be ok to call home. Sounds crazy. Probably is. But…watch us,” his post read.


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