Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - A home for just one dollar?
That's exactly what you can get under Buffalo's Urban Homestead Program. The program offers vacant houses and lots for just one dollar to people who intend on rebuilding the properties.
"These properties that are city-owned and homestead eligable are also on the demolition list, so if nobody purchases them they go to the landfill. That's a cost to taxpayers of anywhere from 15 to 25 thousand dollars depending on the size of the building," said Mike Puma, who is about six months in to repairing the home he bought for $1. "To take something that's going to have the buck passed to the taxpayers and head to the landfill versus having a new homeowner who's invested in to the community and rehabilitating a blighted structure, it's a stand against demolition but it's also a long-term investment in not only the property, but the neighborhood as a whole."
To qualify for the program, people must have at least $5,000 cash on hand and a line of credit, fix all code violations in a year and a half, and live in the house for three years after construction is finished, and construction is most definitely necessary.
"Nobody's expecting anyone to move in to a $! house a day after they close," Puma said. "These places require significant investment, they're not livable. I've yet to see one that's even close."
Because of the condition of the homes, the project is not for everyone.
Jason decided the project wasn't for him after seeing the condition of some of the homes and the work that would have to be put in to it. He had another problem as well.
"Eighty percent of those houses, if everything goes well and you spend 30 grand and everything turns out gorgeous, you might be on Jefferson and Fillmore. Let's be honest, even if you had a really nice house that's not where you want to be," Jason said.
"It's not for everybody," Puma said. "There's a good mixture of things you have to have a professional contractor do and that require a permit, but there's things you can do as somebody who's handy to a certain extent."
Despite the long road to repair, Puma doesn't think people should be scared off by the state of the houses in the program. He says his $1 home has been a fantastic experience.
More information on the Urban Homestead Program can be found HERE.