[Photo provided by Lannon Broughton]
By Andrea V. Watson
ENGLEWOOD— Englewood residents can purchase city owned lots for just a dollar and this year, Chicago Cares – the organization that mobilizes volunteers – is stepping in to assist with the cleanup.
“We’re not just going to say, ‘Here, buy this lot,’ but we’re also saying, ‘Buy this lot and we’re going to help you fix it up,’” said resident Lannon Broughton, who’s also a part of the Englewood Quality of Life Housing Task Force. He and four others– known as the champions for rapid response – gather information and concerns from the community and bring it back to the leadership team.
The City will be accepting new applications for the Large Lot Program through June 1, 2018.
Through this program, property owners can apply to purchase up to two vacant properties (per property owned) on their block for $1 each. Applicants must own property on the same block, be current on property taxes and have no outstanding debt to the city, such as parking tickets or water bills, among other requirements.
Buyers must pay property taxes on the lots and maintain them. The property cannot be sold for at least five years.
“If you’re tired of seeing the dirt and the lots looking like a junk yard, purchase that lot for a dollar,” Broughton said. “You clean it up, fence it up. Once you get the property, you get power. This is about empowering the community.”
When the application process was open last year, Broughton said that it was well received in the community.
Homeowner Tina Hammond has lived on the block of 6800 South Paulina with her husband for 16 years. They own the only city lot on their block, but have been maintaining the others, as well, Hammond said.
“My husband had been taking care of the lots ever since we’ve been on the block,” Hammond said. “Sometimes people are dumping on them and I just got tired of seeing that. If I had the money to buy them all, I would’ve.”
Since accepting ownership of their lot last August, they’ve made some changes to it such as painting a mural and planting flowers.
“It’s beautiful, it’s just a peaceful space,” Hammond said, who operates a home daycare. She has brought the children into the lot for activities and yoga. It’s also a gathering place for the community, she said.
“My dream and hope is that all those lots are sold to someone who can do something to them, something that’s positive to just beautify the block,” she said.
Eligibility requirements include:
- The applicant must already own property on the same block on which the lot is located—the property does not need to be owner-occupied. The eligible lot can be across the street or the alley, can be a few doors down, or adjacent from the property the applicant already owns.
- The applicant can be a business, a nonprofit, or a person – churches are NOT eligible.
- The applicant must fill out the online application via largelots.org as the first step in the process. The applicant must be able to prove ownership by uploading their deed with their online application. The document must say “deed” (contracts for deed will not be accepted). If the home was purchased prior to 1985, deeds will not be available for download from the Recorder of Deeds website; deeds must then be picked up in person: http://cookrecorder.com/locations/ (note: the embossed version of the deed IS NOT necessary).
For a complete list of eligibility requirements visit www.LargeLots.org.