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Local non-profit to introduce young people to construction industry, tackles affordable housing crisis

The program takes an unconventional approach to the affordable housing crisis, and has even inspired one volunteer to start his own business.

NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans has a growing need for affordable housing and programs centered on our youth. One local non-profit is tackling both of those issues with an uncommon approach.

The mission is simple: build houses, frame character. That's the goal of Uncommon Construction, an idea created in the mind of Aaron Frumin.

"When we think about New Orleans, and the need that exists in New Orleans, it just makes sense to be here," said Frumin.

Frumin came to the city in 2005 to help rebuild after Katrina. Throughout the years he has worked with several local non-profits, but in 2015, he decided to create his own.

"What we lack, in some ways, in our schools and in other areas of our community are opportunities for young people to demonstrate their character in really meaningful ways to develop it," Frumin said.

His uncommon approach has been introducing local youth to the construction industry. Once accepted to the program, students had the opportunity to get school credit, scholarships, hourly pay, and mentors. The program has a long history of molding homegrown entrepreneurs. Joshua Bolds is one of them.

"I went for the interview, and I loved it since then," said Bolds. "Being able to work with a combination of people that are my age and people that are older. We can all share knowledge and we can all learn from each other."

Bolds went on to open up his own business in the construction industry. He even works along the organization today.

Bolds said, "To be able to give back, it's just, it's a huge, grateful experience that I'm able to experience. For my business, I always get clients that say, we so greatly appreciate it, you know, having somebody there to help, when we can't count on people that may come from another state, but it's just an unreal feeling to be able to experience that."

The non-profit just got a half a million-dollar grant that Frumin says will allow the organization to keep growing.

"That means that we're going to nearly double the number of young people who work and gain the same and similar experience that Josh has had. So, we're really, really excited and grateful to the funders at Catalyze Challenge," said Frumin. "I really feel like New Orleans has made a mark on me, and I'm fortunate to, in a small corner of it, feel like I'm able to make to pay that back."

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