Indianapolis non-profit flips homes for residents who use wheelchairs

Contractors build a ramp outside Alex Hurtado's home.
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - An Indianapolis real estate investor is putting his knowledge to use helping fix up homes for people who use wheelchairs.

On a crisp winter day, the sounds of hammering and table saws fill the air outside an east side home. It looks like a typical construction project, but it's not. A half-dozen men are building a ramp outside of home - on their own time - to help the young man who lives inside.

"This isn't about making money," said contractor Brian Losacker, "it's about helping other people. So if we can spend a day here and a day there trying to help somebody, that's enough pay for me."

Brian are his crew are volunteering their time to help a 31-year-old man, who was paralyzed in a car accident four years ago, have a better life. Alex Hurtado was just getting started in the real estate business when tragedy struck. He was a passenger in the car and ended up with injuries that will keep him from ever walking again. He is one of about 35 people each day in America who suffer an injury or illness that puts them in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives.

Alex Hurtado and his mother outside their east side home.
Alex Hurtado and his mother outside their east side home.

Local real estate investor Jason Lucchesi has a heart for people in trouble. He lost a brother to cancer at a young age and has another brother who has autism and he was looking for a way to give back.

"I've donated to causes here and there," he said, "but I really wanted to do something to leave behind a legacy."

He found that purpose through helping people who are confined to wheelchairs live a better, more fulfilling life. Jason makes his living flipping homes - buying them at a low cost, fixing them up, and re-selling for a higher price. He decided he could use his expertise to help people stay in their homes, despite the disabilities that challenge them.

"We've seen it all. We've come through and we've done a lot of things with properties and having the expertise, the hours, the days, the weeks, the months, the years. We wanted to come in and really give people the lives they desire," he said.

To Jason, it's about improving the quality of life for people challenged by a serious disability.

That's why he started No Flipping Excuses, a non-profit that directly helps people navigate life on wheels rather than legs. The group started just over a year ago, has worked with four people so far, and Alex is the first person in Indianapolis to get its help.

When the group takes on a project like this, the commitment doesn't end at the front door. They also think about the inside of the house - things they can do like widening doorways and fixing heating and plumbing to make sure a person in a wheelchair can have the best quality of life possible. In Alex's case, that meant a major rewiring in the electrical box and redoing the heating and cooling system and the hot water heater. Fundamental things, but helping Alex and his mother make their new lives work.

"It's making a real big difference, because before, they wouldn't even be able to take showers here," Jason said. "They had to go to a friend's house or a family member's house to take a shower someplace else."

For Alex, the help means hope.

"When I met them, they made me gain another purpose in my life, even though I have all this pain inside me, I'm trying not to focus on the pain and I'm trying to focus on the good side of things that are happening right now," Alex said.

"No Flipping Excuses" never charges its clients. It operates on volunteers and donations. You can help by clicking here. Lucchesi says he knows his group is in the early stages, but he is committed to seeing it grow as the number of people who need the services continues to grow each day.