‘People Claim a Hood, a City, or a Block But Don’t Own It’: Comedian Mike Epps Fights Gentrification in Indianapolis By Buying 6 Houses on the Block He Grew Up On

Over the past five years, Mike Epps and his wife Kyra have strategically expanded their real estate portfolio by acquiring properties in the Midwest community where the comedian spent his formative years.

Mike Epps (Photo via Instagram @therealmikeepps)

Notably, the Def Comedy Jam veteran has made substantial investments in the very street he grew up on, undertaking the purchase, renovation, and restoration of six houses on that block.

In August 2020, he took to social media to share with his over 8 million followers his endeavor and paused to mark the significance of what he and his spouse are doing for other people.

“A lot of people claim a hood, a city, or a block but don’t own it,” he wrote in a caption on Instagram. “This is my block in Indiana: the before and after with family and friends in the homes.”

He noted that the city, and specifically the area he grew up in, is experiencing rapid gentrification, where the people who once lived in the homes are forced to move out.

Gentrification is Real

As reported by IndyStar, affluent and predominantly white buyers are entering previously neglected communities affected by drugs, violence, and political negligence, causing displacement due to soaring property values. Consequently, gentrification has led to a substantial surge in home prices within these areas, leading cycle of declining affordability.

This influx of high-income buyers into more budget-friendly districts triggers a cycle of diminishing affordability, perpetuating the challenges faced by residents.

Investing in the Community

Epps and his wife are perhaps some of those wealthier investors who purchased houses over the last 25 years in the Eastside/ Fall Creek area but have vowed to make sure the properties they buy afford average people opportunities to live comfortably in affordable housing.

Since he and his wife have stepped in and built up the community, they have increased the value.

“Me and my wife Kyra [are on a] mission to renovating these houses one at a time and to make sure people can afford,” he said.

Back in 2006, when he purchased one of the homes, it was $26,000, according to Zillow.com records. Now the 1307-square-foot, three-bedroom, single-family home, is worth has increased almost 10 times and is worth $209,400.

Buying Back the Block

In November 2023, HGTV produced an episode for the premiere of “Buying Back the Block” highlighting the work that the Epps have done in their community.

In the promo for the episode, he says that he believes there is no place in the world like Indianapolis and talks about the importance of this venture.

“I bought my whole childhood block back, six homes that we actually got evicted from,” he explained, saying that after having a successful career, he was compelled to come back and commit to revitalizing the street he grew up on, including his grandmother’s home.

Another one of the homes, which they affectionately call Big Blue, is the block’s crown jewel. A former firehouse built in the 1880s, the couple has now transformed it into a home — adding walls, floors, stairs, a balcony, and more.

Now they actually live there.

The episode was originally aired on Nov. 8, but can still be streamed on HGTV.

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