Well, the great city of Gary is back in the news [Gary offering vacant homes for a dollar, Chicago Sun-Times, June 3, 2013]:
|After 46 years of black political rule, homes in Gary, Indiana are going for only $1... as a policy of black elected officials|
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said she’s got reason to feel nostalgic about the “dollar home” program she’s launching in her housing-ravaged city.
As a young deputy prosecutor 25 years ago, Freeman-Wilson said she purchased a dollar home in the 800 block of Fillmore Street under a popular HUD program.
“It had an overwhelming impact on my living in the city of Gary and contributing to it,” she said.
Freeman-Wilson never forgot the dollar home program and pledged to revive it during her mayoral campaign in 2011 as the city grapples with vacant houses and buildings. Today, about 25 percent of the city’s homes are abandoned.
On Monday, Freeman-Wilson said the city will run its own version of the dollar home program starting with 13 houses owned by the city in the University Park neighborhood, largely near Indiana University Northwest.
“At the end of the day, it allows us to keep those who want to stay as homeowners and keep the city vibrant,” Freeman-Wilson said at the City Hall press conference.
Community Development Director Arlene Colvin said the homes will be awarded by a lottery after the applications have been reviewed.
As for the income, Colvin said a single homeowner should have an income of $35,250 to qualify. Two people would require an income of $40,350, she said.
The new dollar homeowners must also pay the taxes on the home and insure it. Colvin said Community Development workers will visit the properties to make sure the requirements are met.
Applications will be available at the Community Development Department, 839 Broadway, beginning Friday.
Colvin said qualified applicants will be able to inspect the homes and request three preferences.
Buying a home in Gary is like choosing a meal off of the McDonald's $1 value meal; and it's the fitting culmination of years of black migration to the city, a powerful reminder of what happens when property value falls upon a black majority to maintain.Freeman-Wilson said she plans to expand the program. “This is just the beginning. We will spread it throughout the city,” she said.
Let's consult the book, Beyond the Ruins: The Meanings of Deindustrialization for a look at the type of world black people created in Gary:
As black workers moved north for employment and jobs began their agonizing departure, Gary’s image changed first to that of a great “black metropolis,” and then to that of an “urban wasteland.” (p.11-12)
In 1956, Ebony called Gary the best city for black people to live in, in all of America; today, you buy a home for $1.Between 1920 and 1930, roughly fifteen thousand migrants from the South arrived. By 1940, another 20,000 had joined them. As African Americans found steel jobs, the reputation of Gary rose within the black community. In 1956, Ebony declared Gary the top city in the United States for African Americans. By the mid-1960s, however, anxieties, aspirations, and tensions in the African American and white communities had begun to play out in the political arena. In the 1967 mayoral campaign, incumbent A. Martin Katz received the endorsement of both the Democratic Party and the United States Steelworkers, support that normally would have guaranteed him a victory. However, black voters’ support for black candidate Richard Gordon Hatcher helped to defeat Katz in a fierce primary. In the general election, despite large numbers of white voters who supported the Republican candidate, Hatcher won. He was elected just hours ahead of Cleveland’s Carl Stokes, making hi the first black mayor of a major U.S. city.
Hatcher’s election touched off a dramatic series of events for Gary. Fear of a black city run by a black mayor led to a rash of white flight in the years after the election. Interviewed in 1976, Dorothy Gale, a white woman who lived in Gary, explained the shocked response she would receive on disclosing her residence. “I was tired of getting that reception when I said that I was from Gary,” she remarked, “because people acted as if you were a leper. I have never heard anything good said about Gary, even on TV.”
After 1967, Gary’s image solidified as a black city with the inner-city problems of crime, violence, and drugs. “Gary has declined tremendously,” observed a white resident of East Chicago; “the crime over there is fantastic. I haven’t been to Gary in years. I wouldn’t go to Gary if I had an armored guard of marines to guard me over there.” In his study of the folklore of the Calumet region of northwest Indiana, Richard Dorson determined that every city possessed its own image within the mind of others. “Gary,” he sates, “is the black city where nobody goes anymore because of crime, particularly drug crime. (p. 225-226)
That's the fitting legacy of the black contribution to Gary, a microcosm for the black contribution to all of America.