We had the good fortune of connecting with John Clark Joshua Gray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John Clark, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
We both grew up in single-parent households so we understand the importance of having safe and affordable housing. Our founder, John Clark, grew up in Thomasville, GA where the sense of community was strong and neighbors looked out for each other. Growing up in that environment, John developed a passion for giving back and community building. Our founder, Joshua Gray grew up in Atlanta, GA in a neighborhood with similar community values. Joshua developed a passion for housing advocacy as family members and friends were displaced by gentrification. He vowed to counter the effects of gentrification by preventing the foreclosure of his grandparent’s home, to the launch of JJ RE Group with a like-minded advocate. We strive to provide clean and safe housing for marginalized communities while improving underfunded areas by building a socially responsible real estate network.
We are fully committed to restoring the dignity of Black and Brown communities.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
We launched in October 2019, right before the pandemic and since then we have acquired multiple properties in Atlanta, earned a real estate license, launched property management services, and partnered with CleanLeeNess Cleaning Services (a small Black family-owned business). Some of the early challenges that we had to overcome were mostly related to starting a business during a pandemic. We ran into material delays, unavailable contractors, and lengthier bank processing times. From those experiences, we have learned the art of the pivot and expecting the unexpected. We are much more confident in our ability to adapt to the changes within the world around us and leveraging our skills for successful outcomes.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would recommend Best End Brewing in the Lee+White development on the Westside Beltline in the Westend. Atlanta is home to amazing Black-owned restaurants and some of our favorites include Rosie’s Cafe, Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks, Gotcha’s Breakfast Bar, Breakfast at Barney’s, The Consulate, 55th and Park, Baltimore Crab & Seafood, Slim & Husky’s, Harold’s, Milk and Honey, Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen, Hattie Marie’s BBQ, Mary Mac’s, Sammy Cheezecake, Negril Village, and Rock Steady.
Other good locations to hang out in include Atlantic Station, Edgewood Avenue Bars & Restaurants, Cresent Avenue, Peter Street Restaurant and Bars, Camp Creek Marketplace, Downtown Hapeville, and Downtown College Park. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We want to send a special shoutout to our investors who were the first people to bet on our vision. Secondly, we want to give a shout to the late and great Herman J. Russell and other housing advocates who have inspired us to carry the torch in providing opportunities to make life better for marginalized communities. Finally, we also want to shout to the Urban League of Greater Atlanta for their continued work within the community. We see you and we appreciate all that you do.