Meet a Californian who moved to Flint on a whim and now acts as an ambassador

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FLINT (WJRT) (11/9/17) A man who had never been to Flint was dismayed when he heard about the water emergency.

So he bought a house and is trying to help his new hometown as a goodwill ambassador.

Most people don't think of Flint as a tourist destination. But a California man moved here recently and registered his house on Airbnb. He's had great success.

"I'm really, seriously into this. I want people to come to Flint. I want them to stay in a nice place. I want them to have a latte," said Joel Sayre.

He's an artist from the San Francisco Bay area who wanted to try something new. So he moved to Flint in May, bought a house on Kentucky Avenue and took in guests through Airbnb.

"I came here and really did it more as a whim," he said.

He knew about the water emergency, but that didn't deter him.

"It did cause me concern and actually strengthen my resolve to come here, absolutely," said Sayre.

Since he moved in the lead lines have been replaced and he has all-copper plumbing. The longer he stays, the more he falls in love with the city.

"Flintstones have overwhelmed me with kindness and it's just been wonderful, Sayre said.

He said his guests have not usually been tourists but people coming to Flint seeking employment, like his last visitor.

"She came here for an interview at Hurley to be a physician. She came all the way from Iraq," Sayre said.

Sayre charges $25 a night and has had as many as five guests at one time.

"I think it could be completely booked almost every single day if I let that happen," said Sayre.

He has plans to buy a vacant lot nearby and create a science and math exhibit for neighborhood children.

"At least some composting, garden beds, maybe some hydroponics," Sayre said.

There are examples of Joel's artwork throughout the house. They've been great conversation starters. Sayre has had about 30-35 guests ever since he started to operate his Airbnb. He talks about his artwork and life in general.

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