- The city of Gary, Indiana, is selling a handful of homes for just $US1, but buyers are expected to renovate them within one year.
- The Dollar Home Program is part of a strategy to reverse decades of urban blight, which has plagued the city since the decline of the steel industry in the 1960s.
- About a third of homes in Gary are unoccupied or abandoned, but the government remains optimistic that it can breathe new life into its neighbourhoods.
Recent years have seen high levels of crime and low levels of employment and education.
The local school district has even taken to selling off dilapidated schools that have been subjected to vandalism and arson. Despite their crumbling walls and graffitied doors, the buildings may be the district’s last hope for paying off its $US100 million debt.
Empty homes are seen as both a burden and an opportunity.
In 2013, the city began selling abandoned properties for a single dollar, provided that the buyer earned at least $US35,250 annually and brought the home up to “habitable standards” within a year. At the end of five years, the city would cede full ownership.
The start of the program brought hundreds of applications, though many didn’t realise that the homes would require extensive repairs.
A housing coordinator for the city’s Department of Community Development told The Times of Northwest Indiana that renovations to dollar homes could cost about $US20,000 to $US30,000. That’s still much cheaper than the average home price in Gary, which hovers at around $US46,000.
The Department of Community Development lists a dozen $US1 homes on its website. Though all of them are in need of serious renovations, they have plenty of untapped potential. Take a look below.
The city of Gary wasn’t always in decline.
With an economy tied to the steel industry, it saw extraordinary growth at the beginning of the 20th century.
The city got its name from Elbert Henry Gary, the founding chairman of the US Steel Corp.
It has also maintained some surprising connections to Hollywood.
As the birthplace of Michael Jackson, Gary hosts an annual tribute to the legendary singer.
The city has also served as a filming location for movies, including “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and the 2010 remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
Though Gary is just 30 minutes outside of Chicago, luring residents to the area has proven difficult.
Gary’s Dollar Home Program isn’t the first of its kind.
Freeman-Wilson originally hoped to sell 50 of the dollar homes each year, but only a handful are listed on the site.
The city opened its Dollar Home Program to nonresidents to attract more buyers.
Source: The Times of Northwest Indiana
Buyers don’t have to pay mortgages, but they’re expected to pay taxes and utilities.
They will also likely have to gut the properties, which are less than desirable on the inside.
Many of the homes have peeling walls and rusted appliances.
Like many former manufacturing towns, Gary hopes to reverse a period of longstanding blight.
Historian S. Paul O’Hara summed up the city’s Dollar Home Program to the New York Times: “It’s not flashy,” he said. “It doesn’t come with promises, but it does come with possibilities.”
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