One in five houses left empty as foreclosures mount and property prices drop by 80%
Chris McGreal, in Detroit
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 2 March 2010 19.45 GMT
Some might say Jon Brumit overpaid when he stumped up $100 (£65) for a whole house. Drive through Detroit neighbourhoods once clogged with the cars that made the city the envy of America and there are homes to be had for a single dollar.
You find these houses among boarded-up, burnt-out and rotting buildings lining deserted streets, places where the population is shrinking so fast entire blocks are being demolished to make way for urban farms.
"I was living in Chicago and a friend told me that houses in Detroit could be had for $500," said Brumit, a financially strapped artist who thought he had little prospect of owning his own property. "I said if you hear of anything just a little cheaper let me know. Within a week he emails me a photo of a house for $100. I thought that's just crazy. Why not? It's a way to cut our expenses way down and kind of open up a lot of time for creative projects because we're not working to pay the rent."
Houses on sale for a few dollars are something of an urban legend in the US on the back of the mortgage crisis that drove millions of people from their homes. But in Detroit it is no myth.
One in five houses now stand empty in the city that launched the automobile age, forged America's middle-class and blessed the world with Motown. FULL STORY