Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, 2nd left, joined Dollar Home participants who were awarded deeds

Gary's Dollar Home program puts American dream in reach

Contributed By:The 411 News

Four deeds awarded and 11 new homeowners welcomed to program

A highlight of Gary’s 2018 Dollar Home lottery held Monday in City Hall was the presentation of deeds to homeowners who joined the program in 2013, the first year the Freeman-Wilson administration undertook the lottery.

Like the 2013 deed recipients – Felicia Knight-Goodman, Ashleigh Johnson, Milton Willis, and Damion & Joya McCarthy – the 2018 lottery winners will embark on a five-year journey to 2023 when it will be their turn.

Administered by the Community Development Division, the program is helping to reduce the number of the city’s vacant homes. Bringing residents back to neighborhoods is a priority for the city and housing is one of the keys. “We’ve expanded the program with great success to those who weren’t current Gary residents and were willing to adopt Gary as their new home,” said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.

The journey is rigorous and begins with the application process. The first requirement is the applicant can’t be a homeowner. Pre-qualifying criteria to join in the Dollar Home program includes income, debt, and credit rating. The minimum income requirement for a single person participant is $38,750 and varies depending on family size.

According to the Dollar Home Program fact sheet, potential homeowners should expect to spend between $25,000 to $30,000 to bring a home up to occupancy compliance. Most of the homes will require major electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation repairs.

Homeowners must bring the property into compliance within the first year and reside in the home for 5 years. Property taxes are forgiven the first year.

For the 2013 Dollar Home program, all the homes offered were in the Glen Park area. This year, the homes are spread across the city.

Of the twelve homes in this year’s lottery drawing, 11 were chosen. Only one participant didn’t get their 1st choice, electing to reapply for the 2019 program. Lottery participants are asked to make 3 selections. Lakia Manley, the Dollar Home program specialist said, “A house from the 2017 Dollar Home Program was added to the 2018 list because the participant didn’t complete the rehabbing within one year.”

Before the home is awarded, applicants are required to attend a Homebuyer Education Course offered by Community Development. Completion of the course is followed by a contractual agreement with the city and real estate closings.

The participants must next obtain zoning clearance from the city Zoning Department and building permits. City inspections ensure that the property meets code requirements for the building department to issue occupancy permits.

Community Development will follow the participants for the next year, monitoring their progress.

City Council President Ron Brewer told the 2018 lottery winners, “We want to do our part to help your home be the place you want. Whatever you do, we stand behind you 100 percent.”

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, 2nd left, joined Dollar Home participants who were awarded deeds (l-r) Ashleigh Johnson, Milton Willis, Felicia Knight-Goodman, and Damion & Joya McCarthy

2018 Dollar Home lottery winners are joined by the mayor, city council members, and Community Development staff

Story Posted:12/22/2018

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