Elizabeth Burgos is hoping a creative idea will help her sell her house, reunite her children with her husband of 15 years and make one lucky person a homeowner for the low price of $100.
She began accepting $100 donations, and if she gets 250, she'll enter each person into a drawing to win her home outright in southwest Detroit. One lucky winner will receive her home, in the form of a quick deed, signed just after the Oct. 28 drawing.
Burgos hopes to raise $30,000, enough to cover her house's back taxes and move her and her three children to Germany, where her husband Hashim Attisha settled after being deported to Iraq in May of 2010 on her birthday, she says. Attisha had lived in the U.S. since he was seven.
"I don't want anyone to go through what I've gone through," Burgos said, who lost her job shortly after Attisha left, staying with family in Iraq, leaving for Syria and eventually settling in Germany where he has attained residency. "It got to a point where I didn't know whether I was coming or going."
The couple bought the house for $50,000 and have put $30,000 of work into it, including a large, renovated kitchen. Bugo received a $27,000 offer on the house in February, but didn't want to sell before Attisha was settled. Her most recent offer was $15,000.
So she came up with the idea to raffle off the house, and has since received donations locally and from other states. Some have made donations on behalf of others. If one man won, Burgos said, he plans to give it to a family he has seen living under an overpass; another reached out to someone looking for a house they found through Burgos' Facebook page. Some have donated on behalf of organizations that serve the hungry.
But there's no telling whether the next owner will want to keep serving weekly meals to the homeless in the lot across from the house, the way Burgos does. When she started, she was serving about 20 on her own at the weekly Garden of Hope picnics; now it's more like 70, and different community groups have stepped in to help.
"It opened my eyes," Burgos said. "I thought, 'Why is my life is so bad,' but then coming to hear the stories of people that we serve, I was like, 'Liz you're OK, you're blessed.' These people have it hard."
"Now I finally got it going, and I have to walk away," Burgos said with some regret about the picnics, which she referred to as her "baby."
"But it's in good hands," she added.
Detroit has seen the $100 house before, and thousands of properties will go at what most would consider a steal in the ongoing foreclosure auction. But Burgos' 1917 house, while needing a little "TLC" as she puts it, comes in good condition, with dark wood finishes, three bedrooms and one and a half baths.
Burgos plans to hold open houses at her home, located at 4019 Gilbert, on Fridays and Sundays until the drawing on Oct. 28.
With the money she raises, she'll pay off the back taxes on the house, approximately $3,200, buy plane tickets and prepare to settle in a home near Munich. She said her children are ready to see their dad again.
"I've lived in Detroit all my life … but I'm just ready to go."
To learn more about the open houses and making a donation, see Burgos' Facebook page.
10. Port Richey, Fla.
<strong>>Median listing price: $59,900 >Comparably priced car: Cadillac CTS-V ($71,000) >Housing price change (year over year): -0.1% >Median household income: $31,016 >Unemployment rate: 8.6%</strong> Port Richey was clearly devastated by foreclosures, job losses and builders who overestimated demand for new homes. That's evident in its whopping 24.7% vacant housing rate, which is more than twice the national average. Housing prices in the area have fallen 48% from their peak, according to Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) data.
9. Holiday, Fla.
<strong>>Median listing price: $59,900 >Comparably priced car: Tesla Model S ($69,900 with 85 kwh battery) >Housing price change (year over year): -0.1% >Median household income: $37,240 >Unemployment: 8.6%</strong> Holiday's 22.2% vacant housing rate, nearly twice the national average, is a hole so big that it will take years for housing demand to match supply. The 8.6% unemployment rate, though unexceptional for America, may further stunt a local recovery. Like neighboring Port Richey, housing prices have also plummeted 48% from their peak, according to the FHFA.
8. Youngstown, Ohio
<strong>>Median listing price: $57,550 >Comparably priced car: Chevy Suburban ($68,900) >Housing price change (year over year): n/a >Median household income: $25,002 >Unemployment: 7.4%</strong> Just as the age of a tree is revealed by rings in its trunk, the age of a town's housing stock, coupled by new construction rates, speaks volumes about the sturdiness of a city. In the U.S., only 14.4% of homes were built before 1940; in Youngstown, it's more than 40%. New home construction is at a standstill. Nearly 19% of homes stand vacant, which places further downward pressure on a local recovery.
7. Dearborn Heights, Mich.
<strong>>Median listing price: $55,000 >Comparably priced car: Cadillac Escalade ($64,800) >Housing price change (year over year): 5.2% >Median household income: $48,905 >Unemployment: 9.9%</strong> The city of Dearborn Heights may be home to Ford Motor Company, but it is far from immune to housing and other economic issues plaguing many Michigan cities. Home prices in the city have fallen by a fairly drastic 55.2% since their peak, according to FHFA data. Yet Dearborn would appear to have a little more upside than some of its neighboring cities if only because Ford is preserving it, and because the number of residents earning more than $100,000 annually remains in line with national averages, unlike any of the other cities on this list.
6. Whiting, N.J.
<strong>>Median listing price: $52,450 >Comparably priced car: Chevy Corvette Grand Sport ($64,650) >Housing price change (year over year): n/a >Median household income: $37,397 >Unemployment: 11.9%</strong> Whiting, an unincorporated area in Ocean County, is home to many retirement communities. The aging of the Baby Boomer population may help lead Whiting out of its funk. Unemployment isn't especially high. In fact, unlike many other towns on this list, the vacant housing unit rate of 7.8% is below the national average of 11.8%.
5. Warren, Mich.
<strong>> Median listing price: $49,900 >Comparably priced car: Lincoln Navigator ($59,900) >Housing price change (year over year): 6.5% >Median household income: $46,247 >Unemployment: 9.9%</strong> Chief among several promising housing trends for Warren is a surprisingly low homeowner vacancy rate, which suggests that the town has seen fewer foreclosures than many other cities in Michigan. Still, sales prices have dropped 35% over the past five years in Warren, says Trulia, which suggests that quite a few homeowners are underwater and perhaps holding onto their properties until things turn around.
4. Redford, Mich.
<strong>> Median listing price: $40,000 >Comparably priced car: Ford F-450 ($55,000) >Housing price change (year over year): 5.2% >Median household income: $52,573 >Unemployment: 9.9% </strong> Redford is not a large city, but it suffers from problems such as 1-in-159 homes in foreclosure, the worst rate among cities on this list. It also has aging homes, most of which were built just after World War II and may be expensive to maintain. Like Warren, prices have dropped by 38.5% from their peak according to FHFA data. On the bright side, at $52,573 the average annual income in Redford is higher than in many of its neighboring cities on this list.
3. Gary, Ind.
<strong>> Median listing price: $39,900 >Comparably priced car: Ford Expedition ($39,900) >Housing price change (year over year): - 7.5% >Median household income: $27,367 >Unemployment: 8.5%</strong> In Gary, as in most other troubled housing markets, employment or rather the lack of opportunities holds the key to its housing recovery. The current high unemployment rate is not a blip unfortunately -- Gary has 3% fewer jobs than it did a decade ago, according to Trulia. Much of the local population lives at some of the nation's lowest income levels as 46.5% earn under $25,000 annually according to Census economic data. Such data suggest that local businesses may have trouble leading the city of recession.
2. Flint, Mich.
<strong>> Median listing price: $31,950 >Comparably priced car: Chrysler 300 ($31,950) >Housing price change (year over year): n/a >Median household income: $28,835 >Unemployment: 8.9%</strong> According to Trulia's Kolko, both Flint and Detroit experienced significant housing-price declines, not because of overbuilding as in Florida but because of "long-term job decline coupled with declining populations." Worse, Flint suffers from a significant amount of poverty with about 44% of the population earning under $25,000 a year according to Census economic data.
1. Detroit, Mich.
<strong>>Median listing price: $21,000 >Comparably priced car: Chevy Malibu ($21,000) >Housing price change (year over year): 5.2% >Median household income: $29,447 >Unemployment: 9.9%</strong> Detroit's leaders are committed to reducing spending and creating a more livable and prosperous city for families and businesses of all sizes. The local automotive economy is improving, especially as Chrysler stages a comeback from its near-death experience. Some may interpret a year-over-year housing price increase as a positive sign for Detroit's future. But unkind economists might call it a dead-cat bounce. Unemployment is not merely high, population is decreasing, and in 2010, one-in-five homes were vacant. Long term, that's a lot of downward pressure on housing prices.
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