Newark holds first lottery to pick residents who can buy houses for $1

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Newark holds first lottery to pick residents who can buy houses for $1
Toni Yates has the story.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A program in Newark looking to add more local homeowners by selling houses for just one dollar kicked off with seven winners on Monday.

City officials held the first lottery for the sale of the city-owned properties in City Hall, where seven winners were picked out and joined by Mayor Ras Baraka and council members for a snapshot.

The winners were among dozens of people who pre-qualified last year for the program that sells dilapidated city owned properties for one dollar.

Qualifiers had keys with names on them, stuffed into the spinning basket and winners were drawn from there.

The houses are far from move-in ready.

The properties have all been seized by the city for non-payment of taxes, bills, or other public debts and are deteriorated and in need of work.

They need hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of work or have to be torn down for new construction.

The hope is the one, two, three and four-family homes will be rehabilitated into beautiful multi-family homes.

Hundreds of people attended workshops on homeownership and finances last year with the mortgage company Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America (or NACA), which offers mortgages to those who would not qualify for commercial mortgages -- offering things like no closing costs and no down payment.

Homeowners will be borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix them up.

"It's more than affordable homeownership," said Bruce Marks of NACA. "It's neighborhood stabilization."

With seven homes this first round, Mayor Baraka promises more to come.

"We have a few properties and as we get more we'll put more out there, so if you're not in the lottery and picked today, by God's grace you'll be picked sometime in the near soon future," Baraka said.

In order to qualify for the "Home Ownership Revitalization Program," potential buyers are required to have lived in Newark for at least five years or be city residents displaced by gentrification. Those who win the lottery must commit to live in the properties for at least 10 years.

Newark has one of the lowest percentages of home ownership of any major American city, officials said.

Residents can learn how to apply for the Homeownership Revitalization Program, or get more information, by calling NACA Newark at 973-679-2601 or accessing the program FAQ.

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