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Asheville realtor rallies other agents to help curb homelessness

Our Person of the Week, Ryan McCullough, is a real estate man rallying others to solve a real world problem. He wants other realtors to join a movement to tackle homelessness by donating a small percentage at each closing to the REACH fund, which goes towards Homeward Bound of WNC. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Our Person of the Week, Ryan McCullough, is a real estate man rallying others to solve a real world problem. He wants other realtors to join a movement to tackle homelessness by donating a small percentage at each closing.

At its purest form, real estate is rewarding and McCullough can't lose when the transaction's a win-win.

"This is a chance to make a difference right here," he said. "The biggest impact we're trying to make is on the chronic homeless issue."

Ryan has sweetened the deal by partnering with Homeward Bound of WNC to create the REACH fund. REACH stands for Real Estate Agents Combating Homelessness. Participating realtors donate a small percentage, usually between $50 and $100.

Ryan's holding a launch party for REACH on January 26, 2018, at the Wicked Weed Funkatorium from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

"The model is based on every agent giving a portion of their commission check at closing," Ryan said.

Last year, an out of town client noticed something sad in an our otherwise thriving city.

"He said, 'Why are there so many homeless people'," Ryan recalled. "I didn't have an answer for him."

"It really gave me the encouragement and the opportunity to find my place and the opportunity to give back," he added.

Ryan often makes the donations on behalf of clients. One of them, Mary Elizabeth Goodman Summers, said it's a thought-provoking gesture.

"It really makes you realize the blessing that it is to be able to own a home," she said.

So far, 20 realtors are on board to help Homeward Bound get more people off the street.

"That's making a difference, housing people right now," Communications and Annual Giving Director Brian Fehsenfeld said.

The $10,000 raised so far has already made an impact.

"Obviously, real estate agents are helping people move into homes -- we're helping people move into homes. We just have a different demographic," Fehsenfeld explained.

REACH is still in its infancy, but Ryan sees the huge potential a real estate industry revenue stream.

"The impact is enormous," he said. "If every agent were to donate a penny to the dollar, we'd raised upwards of three-quarters of a million dollars."

The idea of curbing homelessness might be the easiest sale he makes all year.

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