Well-known local developer adds children’s books to his already impressive repertoire

Dwayne Jones, a well-known developer with a passion and calling for affordable housing, is no stranger to having many irons in the fire, from his mission work abroad to his advocacy for the homeless and serving underserved neighborhoods in and around Memphis. Most recently, Jones has begun writing a series of children’s books about his work, and why construction and building things is so important. The series, simply called, “Dwayne, the Contractor,” shows step-by-step, easy-to-use practices for kids to participate and learn about home improvement. His most recent book is dedicated to his late mother; it’s about building a handicap ramp for her after she suffered a heart attack and stroke. 

“Tiny homes are just one area of my business. We build traditional-size homes but right now tiny homes are needed due to the cost of new construction,” Jones says.
On Dwayne’s website, there’s a personal slogan that says, “I Build by Faith.” When I asked him what this means, he said, “I came up with this, growing up volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. I always wanted to build and working with kids came naturally.”

Jones’s faith is a north star for him and, as a Christian, he continued embarking on projects with no additional direction or plan. 

“I stepped out on faith,” Jones says.  

In college, this personal tagline was lived out with the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at Tennessee State University, where Jones and his brothers volunteered regularly, and especially with kids. It was his driving force.

Jones has enjoyed great press and praise by just being himself and helping others in need. He’s been a fixture with Juice Orange Mound, a nonprofit that focuses on lifting up and supporting neighbors with innovative ideas, and continues to try new things like BOXLOT in the medical district, a retail store made out of shipping containers designed specifically for makers, entrepreneurs, and artists who can’t afford a brick-and-mortar establishment. 

A home built by Dwayne Jones and his team.His tiny homes, however, are his real passion. Jones strives to reduce the carbon footprint and offer a viable option for people to find affordable housing.

“I’m not looking for accolades or awards,” he says. “I just want to help others live better lives.”

I recently sat down with Dwayne Jones to discuss his series of children’s books and hear more about his latest construction projects.

High Ground News: Most people know you from your work as a developer and advocate for affordable housing, but can you tell me more about being a children's author? 

Dwayne Jones: I became a children’s author because of several mission trips to Ghana, Togo, India, and Haiti. The children at the orphanages I visited wanted to know what I did in the United States and I would tell them I was a contractor. They in return would ask me what a contractor does. So, I began explaining my work in children's language and started writing books. 

HGN: How many books have you written and where can they be purchased? 

DJ: I've written 12 books in the “Dwayne, the Contractor” series and three have been self-published, to date. I have a fourth book coming out next month about my mother. My books can be purchased on my website at dwayneajones.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ace Hardware on Park Avenue. 

“With an emphasis on homeownership, family, and learning basic construction skills, the [Dwayne, the Contractor] series is based on home improvement projects and new construction,” says Jones.HGN: Does your writing intersect with your passion for affordable housing? 

DJ: Yes, my books are based on actual construction projects with real world construction measurements and language. With an emphasis on homeownership, family, and learning basic construction skills, the series is based on home improvement projects and new construction. 

HGN: What's the latest news regarding the tiny homes you are building?

DJ: I’m focused on building a dozen affordable homes after purchasing 12 lots from the Blight Authority of Memphis.

HGN: Why Tiny homes? Why now?

DJ: Tiny homes are just one area of my business. We build traditional-size homes but right now tiny homes are needed due to the cost of new construction. Most people can't afford a 1,500 sq. ft. home at a price point of $180,000 in the inner city. As a country and community, we need to reduce our carbon footprint and become more energy efficient. I've also found a market in millennials, empty nesters, and people who want to travel and go out to eat instead of spending a lot of money on a large mortgage. 

HGN: What's next for Dwayne Jones?

DJ: I've been approved for an 8-acre, 31-lot subdivision for middle class families. I plan to return to Ghana and Haiti this year. I also plan to advocate for cottage communities within the county government. I plan to sponsor a few pop-up bike rides and continue to provide raised bed planter boxes. I plan to continue to secure vacant lots and build affordable homes and eventually provide transitional housing for the homeless and women of domestic abuse.

He's also currently working on a dozen 750 sq. ft. three-bedroom, two-bathroom tiny homes that are all under contract for less than $100,000. Visit www.dwayneajones.com to learn more about these projects and many others.
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Read more articles by Jeff Hulett.

Originally from Chicago, Jeff moved to Memphis in 1990 not really knowing much about the south. In fact, the first week he lived here he was suspended from school for not saying, "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am." Jeff has since developed a passion for Memphis and especially Memphis music. A member of several bands including Snowglobe and Me & Leah, Jeff works as a communications consultant with many non-profits including Playback Memphis, Church Health, Room in the Inn-Memphis and BLDG Memphis. Jeff lives in the Vollintine Evergreen neighborhood with his wife and two daughters.