Rebuilding A Life And A City After Years On Detroit's Streets

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Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

After years of selling drugs and serving prison time in Detroit, 54-year-old Isaac Lott is now a site supervisor with the organization Reclaim Detroit. The group deconstructs abandoned homes to reclaim materials from them.

Lott says he is hopeful about his own future, as well as the future of the city of Detroit. He tells NPR's Rachel Martin that he was proud just to make it through the training program that got him his job.

"This is the first time I really completed anything," he says. "And I enjoy coming to work everyday."

Lott says what's different now is that he doesn't have to look over his shoulder anymore, either for police or other criminals. He says it was a life full of stress.

Lott was dealing heroin and cocaine, but he says he was also his own best customer.

"I wasn't good at it because I'm not rich," he says.

Lott says he came from a good home, and his parents always worked hard to provide, but that he and his two brothers gravitated toward making money on the street. At one time, he says, they were making more money than their parents. Those two brothers died living that street life.

Now that he works for Reclaim Detroit, the first legitimate job he's ever had, working to help rebuild the city he's lived in his whole life, Lott says he's hopeful.

"In the next 10 years you won't really know Detroit; I really believe that," Lott says. "Once we get rid of all of this blight and educate these younger kids, I think it's going to change."

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Is it worth the extra time and money it takes to salvage Detroit's vacant homes, or should they just be demolished? Tell us what you think on the Weekend Edition Facebook page, or in the comments section below.

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