Ian Mason, '19, is now a young and successful real estate developer in New York City who is passionate about making public health more accessible for Bronx residents. Mason's current project is aimed at building affordable housing in the Bronx. (Brigit Sulilvan/B&W Staff)

Lehigh senior aims to be one of youngest developers in New York City

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Ian Mason, ’19, is looking to be one of the youngest real estate developers in New York City, pending the success of his current project aimed at tackling public health concerns.

“What I’m trying to do is build affordable housing that’s going to serve a need that New York City certainly has to address, which is a huge public health concern in the Bronx,” Mason said. “Not only are the apartments going to be an affordable source of housing, but they’re also going to be focused on public health.”

Mason said he intends to make public health more accessible for residents in the Bronx. One way he plans to achieve this goal is to open a clinic for family medicine and holistic care. His clinic is intended to be time-efficient and provide a safe space for residents.

“There are so many people who really need access to health care and simply don’t get it,” he said. “The ER waiting time is up to four hours. That’s a really long time and certainly would dissuade people from going.”

He has also expressed concerns toward those in need of medical care but have chosen not to accept it due to police intervention.

“Police officers walk through ER rooms, ask for people’s IDs, and wind up creating an unsafe environment for the individual because they can be pulled out at any time, even though they’re there for their own health,” Mason said. “So if you create a clinic that’s focused on family care, focused on primary care, you’re going to wind up getting a lot of people who really need health care, who don’t feel comfortable enough walking into a hospital.”

Homelessness is a growing issue not only in the Bronx, but in all of New York City, Mason said. He said he hopes to include homeless populations in his clinic.

“There’s going to be a certain percentage of units that are going to be dedicated to the recently homeless. Homelessness is a huge public health fear because if you don’t have the security of a place to live, how could you worry about anything else besides just that?” he said. 

As a biochemistry and political science major, public health has been a consistent concern for Mason. It’s something he’s always thought about, with his mother working as a psychiatrist.

Mason said his life has always been surrounded by different public health concerns, so he said he is aware of the different public health concerns that at-risk populations face.

Mason is also pursuing an M.D. after he graduates in May.

Geoffrey Lynch is the architect and engineer from AECOM, an energy-efficient engineering firm involved in Mason’s project.

“I think it saves the health care system a lot of money,” Lynch said. “Going to the emergency room is very expensive if you just have a bad cold whereas a walk-in clinic that, that’s what they are meant for, to address those important but not life-threatening issues, and so in general health care is one of the most important things to everyone.”

Jafer Hasani, ’19, is a close friend of Mason’s. Though he is not working on Mason’s project Hasani said he feels strongly about the significance of public health.

Hasani said he believes Mason’s project will be a “catalyst” for improving public health in the Bronx.

“The government has these statistics where it says where there’s a disparity of health care service providers,” Hasani said. “(The Bronx) is one of the biggest pockets there are for dental care, for primary care.”

Mason said he hopes that his clinic will be a “touchstone” and a “beacon of public health.”

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