By: Giavonni Nickson
On Monday, December 17, 2018, the city of Gary hosted a press conference at City Hall. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Dollar House Program Manager Lakia Manley presented five deeds to homeowners that successfully completed the Dollar House Program.
“Home ownership is one of the things people think about when they refer to living the American dream,” said Mayor Freeman-Wilson.
Many people have heard of the Dollar House Program and have been understandably interested in what it could mean for them.
Thirty years ago the city of Gary regularly held a dollar house lottery in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This program was started to assist Gary residents that desire homeownership, reduce vacancies, and leverage opportunities to attract non-Gary residents to increase the city’s population.
The Dollar House Program has proven to be an integral part of the city of Gary’s bold initiative to eliminate blight in Gary neighborhoods. One aspect of this elimination has been to rehabilitate vacant city-owned houses. The demolition of abandoned structures and cleanup projects such as the 5x5x5’s, Blight Buster Days, and Operation High Impact have also been a part of the city’s efforts.
Those awarded deeds, during the press conference, celebrated and shared excitement about their homes. They showed pictures and talked about their homes and the sense of community forged with neighbors.
Monday’s conference was also the Final Dollar House Program Lottery drawing of the year. Thirteen families participated, and eleven were selected. Lottery winners jumped out of their seats at the opportunity to select their new homes.
Councilman-at-Large Ronald Brewer expressed his happiness to celebrate and see the smiling faces on those that received new homes in the city. “As council president, we stand behind you all one hundred percent.”
In five years the lottery winners will receive deeds upon meeting the outlined Dollar House Program requirements.
Applicants must have a minimum income of $35,250 a year for one person:
Within 180 Days: Fix the code violations on the exterior of the structure.
Within 365 Days: Bring the home up to habitable standards.
Agree to live in the home for five years before receiving full ownership.
Applicants must provide proof of sufficient funding to devote to the rehabilitation. This could be a bank statement, unused credit card limit, gift letter or proof of a sufficient income if the applicant is going to pay for the repairs over time.
The Dollar House Program is genuinely making a difference in the city. The history of the 3600 block of Polk St. in Gary is an excellent example. This block once had five vacancies. One vacancy was an NSP, Neighborhood Stabilization Program, home. The other four vacancies have now been removed because of the Dollar House Program. The block is now safer, the assessed valuation has increased, and neighbors have formed lasting relationships.
In the city of Gary, the Dollar House Program has successfully helped to rebuild the community by strengthening neighborhoods, reducing vacancies, increasing safety and helping residents achieve a piece of the American dream.