2021 Southside Times Person of the Year: Philip Beeson

Building with Beeson: ‘Reconstruct3’ launched to fix housing crisis

By Grady Michael Gaynor

Lifelong Southside resident Philip Beeson grew up understanding that it takes a team of people dedicated to a single mission to accomplish great things.

Beeson grew up in Beech Grove and currently resides near Roncalli High School, the seventh child in a family of 15. In 1994, at 16, he began his career in construction as a roofing laborer for Hofmeister Roofing, along with two years’ training at C9 in the building trades program. Beeson acquired two years of experience before he learned another valuable lesson in using effective teamwork to overcome obstacles and prevail towards a higher goal during the Friday Greenwood Hailstorms of 1996 (seven tornadoes to central Indiana, along with 3-inch diameter hail and damaging wind gusts).

Beeson proved himself to be a leader in the construction industry, and in 2001, he started his own company: Beeson Construction, Inc.

Through his years as a construction worker, Beeson has worked alongside many blue-collar workers and continues to do so with a hands-on leadership style to this day. Beeson has led his team through countless hailstorms, hurricanes and other natural disasters, both local and nationwide, including Hurricane Katrina. The quality finished projects, and five-star reviews from satisfied customers, speak for themselves that Beeson has been successful in his company mission. However, in his experience working construction around the city of Indianapolis he has witnessed a different kind of disaster. This one is man-made.

Philip Beeson, left, has led his company with a hands-on approach since 2001. (Submitted photos)

GROWING CRIME

Crime rates in Indianapolis continue to grow. In early November 2021, Indianapolis surpassed its 2020 numbers with its 218th homicide death. Both years shattered the previous 2018 record of 159. Gang-related activity and turf wars are on the rise. Neighborhoods where kids used to play in the streets, now have recused into silence in the hope of finding safety inside their own homes. The divide between lower and upper class continues to skyrocket, as the once thriving middle class is phased out.

Beeson believes a major contributing factor is a result of gentrification initiatives and various housing projects which he sees as non-sustainable solutions to the root of the issues.

“What happens is more affluent people go in probably with good hearts thinking they are developing or rebuilding a community,” he said. “However, what they really are doing is putting a $600K house next to a $150K house and driving the $150K home’s value up and they are unable to pay the skyrocketed property taxes. Eventually, this pushes people out of their homes and communities. When someone is oppressed, and they start a new life in an even worse area, without their family and friends, the likelihood that individual will participate in criminal activity goes through the roof in this hostile environment.”

Furthermore, Beeson said he also believes city leaders need to be held responsible. He believes many housing programs fail to solve the core root of problems in these communities. Oftentimes, when one political party is in power, they undue the work of the previous parties. The issues do not only swim in circles; they get worse.

Beeson explained, “When a bunch of people with really great intentions come into a neighborhood, build a house, and give it away, all you are doing is putting a band-aid on top of a band-aid. When something is given to someone, they do not value it as much as they would if it was earned. Not to mention, most of these houses are built horribly. I want to see something in place that takes a more holistic and sustainable approach towards solving the issues in these communities. These people need jobs, a chance to get themselves out of their situation, a light at the end of the tunnel to strive for and create a better life. Too many young men especially turn to lives of crime when I know if they just had an opportunity they would choose to do better with their lives. It’s not surprising when they can’t even go work at a grocery store because they have all pulled out of their neighborhoods. Let alone the factory jobs they used to have that have long been gone from this city.”

Through his experience of working on the blue- and white-collar side of construction, Beeson has been asked countless times for employment. Regularly, people walk up to him on job sites and ask for work. Beeson has always desired to give a person willing to show up and give effort a job. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.

“I’ve gone into neighborhoods and have people come up to me asking to work. I’ll have a guy come up to me and ask if he can start tomorrow. … Well, tomorrow we are doing a job clear out in Speedway. This guy has transportation issues, legal issues, probation and all sorts of things. Too many strings attached. It’s not possible, even though I so badly wish that I could.”

For the last eight years, Beeson planned the launch of his own nonprofit housing project. On April 8. 2021, he was given the final and official stamp of approval from the IRS as a tax-exempt organization (meaning people can deduct contributions) and was approved by Secretary of State Connie Lawson to operate “Reconstruct3” as a nonprofit organization.

CHANGING FROM WITHIN COMMUNITY 

Reconstruct3’s plan is rather than try to fix issues in lower income communities from the outside, jump inside, and work along with the community toward making sustainable change from within. Beeson has gained support of many community leaders in low-income areas of Indianapolis to start a program with a holistic community approach toward solving the housing crisis. He has invested $20,000 in legal fees, applications fees, a website, blueprints and architect fees so far, and intends to donate another $50,00-$100,000 in 2021 toward the purchase of a “construction tent” and other startup costs.

This tent will be used as a training facility, and year-round traveling job site. Beeson intends to put this tent on a plot of land, hire local community members, teach them to build a home (estimated future value of $150,000-200,000), move the tent to the next lot, and repeat until what stands is an affordable nice neighborhood built by and for the ones living in it.

Employees will be hired by partnering with community leaders and finding the right individuals to take the job as a construction worker for Reconstruct3. At the end of the 12-24-month paid training program, Beeson hopes to see leaders emerge. He wants to hire people full time at Beeson Construction and give them $60-$70K annual salaries, see them go on to work for partners who will also assist in overseeing their craft in Reconstruct3, or go out on their own. Anything to help be a spark to these oppressed communities.

James Wilson is the CEO of a nonprofit organization, Circle Up Indy, which seeks to improve the quality of life for residents of Indianapolis by addressing issues of violence. They tackle issues facing disadvantaged communities in relations to economics, education and employment, and physical and mental health resources. Wilson is one of the community leaders that trusts Beeson and believes in Reconstruct3.

BRIDGING A DIVISION 

“Phil is going to create a self-sustaining ecosystem in our communities,” Wilson said. “He will provide stability for our youth and bridge a divide between the young and old as talents, traditions and work ethics are passed to the next generation of working-class men. I am excited to work alongside Phil and make this happen.  He has put his own money, time, passion, and heart to get this off the ground. When Phil first approached me, he wanted me to help get this program off the ground. I said if his passion was not there, I did not want to work with him. His heart is absolutely in the right place. Development in Black community housing projects can come with a lot of pushback. Especially for a white man. I repeat, he has gained my trust.”

Beeson’s five-year goal is to have this tent and others up and running, training thousands of workers and putting up 50 houses or more a year. Beeson Construction has plans to expand outside the state in the next few years and with that they hope to bring Reconstuct3 to other cities also badly needing this change. However, he needs support from the community and other local business leaders. Beeson is looking to fundraise $250,000 to set up a staff infrastructure and raise the rest of the money he needs to purchase the construction tent. Beeson is looking to partner with service companies outside his areas of expertise like HVACs, landscaping, electricians, masons, carpeting and others. Once this is done, his vision will become reality.

Beeson, left, partners with community leaders, including James Wilson, CEO of Circle Up Indy.

Beeson concluded, “I am not giving anything away. I am trying to build a job training center to hire and train thousands of people out of there while we rebuild the inner cities. Making these houses quality and affordable. I think these guys just need a chance and that if they can take pride in their communities that we will see real change and a reemergence of the middle-class leader.”

The Southside Times is proud to acknowledge Beeson for what he has done, and what he plans to do. As Beeson has stepped up to help this state and country through many natural disasters in the past, we trust that he will take that same approach towards using his experience and talents in this capacity to help his fellow man. For this, Philip Beeson is the Southside Times Person of the Year.

For more information, go to Reconstruct3.com or email contact@reconstruct3.com.