Community Crusader

Community Crusader

Drunia M. Duvivier not only owns -but leases out and lives in -her three-level property located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York. The former Morgan Stanley executive, who now describes herself as an active real estate investor, took advantage of the Neighborhood Housing Services’ StoreWorks program. The program, an initiative geared toward community rehabilitation and revitalization, helped Duvivier purchase her property in 2002.

Duvivier bought the mixed-use building for over $200,000. She then partnered with her friend, Marlene Green, and her sister, Helena Duvivier to form O’ Rancy Management. Duvivier is majority owner (75%) and acts as property manager.

“I was looking to purchase property for a certain amount, so I stuck to my guns and was able to secure property in my price range,” says Duvivier. “In real estate, there’s enormous risk. You’ve really got to do the math to make sure that this is something you can sustain.”

By taking the risk, Duvivier’s foresight to acquire real estate made it easier for her when she was downsized from Morgan Stanley in 2002. As the first major holding for her business, the property provides an income stream to sustain her lifestyle, as well as provide additional funds that can be used to purchase more properties in the future. The store front commercial space of the building is occupied by a CPA firm, and the second and third floors each have an apartment, one of which Duvivier resides in. Since she lives in the property, she builds equity with each mortgage payment, making the property a major building block for her future wealth.

“Real estate is a wonderful way to try to acquire wealth for the future and to really structure yourself. There are so many different ways that you can use real estate to match your lifestyle and what’s important to you,” Duvivier says.

Duvivier is capitalizing on the advantages of making a strong commitment to DOFE Principle No.1: to use home ownership to build wealth.

Duvivier is treating her property like a business, and by doing so is contributing to the revitalization of the community she grew up in. She was adamant about remaining in the community and is happy to watch and be part of the new developments. “I waited six months to rent out to a professional business because really it’s an investment in the community,” says Duvivier, who wanted to provide services for the professionals and families in the neighborhood. “I started to ask people, ‘What type of business would you like to see on this block?’ to find out what was needed.”

Along with the rehabilitated building she owns, Duvivier wants to make a social investment through running several wealth-building workshops for the community in upcoming months. She is partnering with the CPA that leases the office space for this project.

Real estate ownership has also afforded Duvivier several nonfinancial benefits including increased time and flexibility to pursue other interests. She has been able to focus more energy on producing and directing a documentary called Traded to Trading: Portraits