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Detroit ramps up $100 "side lot" program

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

More Detroiters living next to vacant lots will get a chance to buy them.

The city is ramping up a program to sell “side lots” to neighboring homeowners for just $100. The Detroit City Council recently transferred thousands of properties to the Detroit Land Bank Authority, which is running the program.

The land bank currently has a little more than 7000 properties in its inventory, says spokesman Craig Fahle.

“We hope to do more,” Fahle says. “If we do a good job with this, then maybe Council will transfer the rest of them over to us so that we can do it for everybody who wants to buy one.”

The land bank will start hosting side lot fairs for interested homeowners early next month. Residents can also search the land bank’s side lot inventory on its website.

Fahle says the land bank can process the sales efficiently. “[It was] a process that used to take six months if you were lucky, sometimes years,” he says. “We’re going to have people come into these side lot fairs, give us their $100, and they’re going to walk out with the deed to the property the same day.”

So far, the program has helped just a few dozen people acquire side lots. They include Betty Hagedus, a lifelong southwest Detroit resident.

Hagedus tried unsuccessfully for years to buy the vacant lot next door, after the house that sat on it burned to the ground and was razed.

So when Hagedus got a mailer from the land bank advertising the $100 side lot program, she jumped on it. “And it was such an easy process,” she says. “Within a month, I had the deed.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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