Chicago has expanded the reach of its Large Lots program, which allows less-wealthy neighborhood residents to buy vacant, city-owned properties on their block for $1, to more than 30 neighborhoods and 4,000 lots in the South and West sides of the city.
The program, which started in the largely African-American Englewood neighborhood in 2014, has sold 550 lots to local residents so far. The buyers, who must own a property on the same block as the vacant lot in order to purchase it, are required to maintain the property up to city code, which includes pulling weeds and erecting a fence.
Many of these lots have been converted into side yards, community gardens or landscaped open space in those once-empty lots. Among the sales to date, more than half are adjacent to the buyers’ existing home, and about 25% are less than five lots away.