Gary, Indiana is selling homes for a dollar
You may have heard of the program launched in June wherein the local government bought the homes at county tax sales after homeowners defaulted on property taxes. In an effort to stabilize the University Park section of town, they offered up several homes for only one dollar each, which has grabbed the attention and headlines of various news outlets.
But not so fast. You’re probably not qualified to get one, but it’s not because you can’t come up with a lone dollar, no, the criteria have more to do with who you are.
Gary, Indiana Mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson tells CNNMoney that roughly 94 percent of all applicants since the program began have been turned away because of the hundreds of applicants simply didn’t qualify.
How can one actually qualify?
So what does it take to qualify to buy your very own one dollar house?
- You must have lived in Gary, Indiana for at least six months prior to applying to buy a home through the program.
- You must have at least $1,000 in savings (since the homes were bought from those who didn’t pay taxes, they want to insure they won’t have to buy your house back yet again).
- You must earn at least 80 percent of the University Park’s median annual income of $35,250.
- Homes “need work,” so you must demonstrate you have the financial capacity to rehabilitate the home.
- You may not currently own a home (no investors invited to this party).
Then, of those that actually qualify, the program requires the new owner to reside there for five years before they are given full ownership – kind of like an official squatter’s program. If the owner fails to stay for the entirety of five years, they forfeit their rights to the property.
Freeman-Wilson says only 25 applicants are currently eligible to buy these homes, and the City of Gary will take all qualifying applications and decide the next owners via a random drawing next month. If the program succeeds, the mayor suggests they could begin selling off up to 50 homes per year through this program.
Gary is not the first city to experiment with selling properties they repossess from homeowners who can’t pay their taxes or have abandoned properties, but this is one of the more creative ways currently being attempted to eliminate blight homes which could help property values in the area and award locals over investors who have never set foot in the town.