March 18th, 2009
11:20 AM ET

What would you do with a $100 house?

Program Note: Tune in for Anderson's full report on how people in Detroit are coping with the economy tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/18/art.people.detroit.jpg caption="A group of artists is buying and moving into a Detroit neighborhood."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/18/art.house.detroit.jpg caption="A house the group plans to convert into a "green energy home."]

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

We drove into the Detroit neighborhood where local artists Mitch Cope and his wife Gina Reichert were meeting us for an interview. As we approached we passed abandoned buildings, burned out houses and foreclosure signs — examples of how hard this already struggling neighborhood has been hit by the current economic crisis.

But despite the blight, Cope and Reichert are excited about the future of their neighborhood. They had grown tired of watching vandals strip abandoned homes so they so they decided to buy one, secure it and make it a self-sustaining green energy home. And they’re inviting friends to move to the neighborhood to do the same.

Cope and Reichert walked us around the neighborhood and spoke about their plans. Bring in artists and friends, create green energy homes, invite the community to take part and turn the neighborhood around. Their idea is new, but they have other people onboard. We met a German couple who was looking to buy property in the neighborhood, another couple bought a house for $500, and another couple from Chicago is closing on a $100 house down the block.

Cope and Reichert say if they don’t have to worry about paying a mortgage, they can put their money into making homes completely self-sustaining. They talk about using solar energy and wind turbines to not only power their homes, but homes next door. They want to make homes a place for artists to come visit for months at a time to work on their art and display their work to community. They’re brainstorming other projects too: they want to invite neighborhood children to plant vegetable gardens and get them involved with other community programs as well.

Neighbors are excited about the couple’s plans. We met a man who has lived in the area for a few years. He was tired of the problems in the area and was looking to move, but after meeting with the artists he was relieved and says he no longer plans to leave. He says these ideas are a breath of fresh air—and wishes the artists all the luck in the world.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Road to Rescue
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. aqquinte

    I like the positive attitude of these people . In the midst of a worldwide economic crisis they came up to a good idea like this one. Nothing beats positive attitude...

    March 19, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  2. madmonq

    $100 for a house. What is this? Monopoly?

    March 19, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  3. Donna Chavarria

    This is an awesome idea! How do I get info in purchasing a home, I want to buy one of these homes!! Please let me know as soon as poossible......We can make a change...

    March 19, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  4. Ted Lehman

    Come on now, let's let Bernie Madoff out on bail.
    Set the bail for 50 billion dollars plus a fine.

    And, I hope Congress learns a lesson from this aig debacle.
    They learned nothing from the Enron bigwig corruption.

    And, Congress may see less infighting if their ranks were reduced
    by 50%.

    Ted Lehman

    March 19, 2009 at 9:19 am |
  5. Diana

    Where can I see the homes that are on sale in this area?

    March 19, 2009 at 4:41 am |
  6. James

    America was built by immigrants originally, let it be built by immirants again...power to the people...:)
    It seems like we have lost view of what is important...our family, quality of life, and common courtesy.
    Maybe banks should take heed to Detroits concept of just letting go of the properties that are delapitated...we all need somewhere toi live and if someone has the opportunity to rebuild or repair an aging home without worring about the bank taking the home if they miss a couple of payments.
    Go Detroit...you started from scratch before, you can do it again.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:54 am |
  7. Susan Abbott

    My father used to say that just because you can do something does not mean you should.

    It never ceases to amaze me how out of touch with the rest of us are the politicians and the big corporations. Did Chris Dodd think he would not get caught in his lie about the AIG contract? Did AIG think it could take $170 billion from us, lose $69 billion last quarter and THEN give out $169 million in bonuses to the very people who are responsible for AIG's failures and we would not notice and be outraged? Does Mrs. Madoff think she can just move to Florida (by the way, I think she is just as guilty as he) and be welcomed with open arms? Better move offshore, Ruthie.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:35 am |
  8. evans mn

    how can i get hold of this guys.?i will love to be part of this helpful spirit to renew a city(willing to buy houses)

    March 19, 2009 at 1:52 am |
  9. Dee

    Could you provide me with the specific neighborhood in Detroit where these artists are trying to revitalize.

    Thank you.

    March 19, 2009 at 1:52 am |
  10. roger

    New blood is good for Detroit, and this is a nice first step, but the city needs more drastic measures. We don't have a chain grocery store within city limits (in a city of 900, 000). 47 percent of our citizens are functionally illiterate. Our school board is taken over by the state every few years for incompetence. Many schools do not receive textbooks until a few months after the start of the school year, due to our credit rating. Only recently were school books allowed to be taken home by students ( I kid you not). Buildings burned in the 67 riots are still standing vacant, and this is on main arterials. Unemployment in the city is 21% and has been for a few years. By just about any indicator you choose, most of Detroit is a third world city. Incredibly, it is surrounded by Ann Arbor and Oakland County both of which have burgeoning tech sectors and strong employment prospects for the future. Detroit proper needs some sort of federal declaration of disaster that would allow for a combination of state/federal control over budgets, rescources etc. At the very least, this authority could knock down vacant houses, get the street lamps working, build a better bussing system or light rail, allow for a adequate level of policing in ALL neighborhoods, not just Greektown and the theater district, and finally get the schools running at a basic level. It's hard to live in a city where basic services are so lacking, even for people living on idealism and dreams. There would be a lot of righteous indignation and calls of racism over a takeover by a federal/state authority, but really how can we as Americans continue to let generation after generation of Detroiters wallow in hopelessness and lack of opportunity just for the sake of hurting a few feelings? Come on, its our moral obligation to provide for a "pursuit of happiness".

    March 19, 2009 at 12:29 am |
  11. augie v.

    all positive energy........these things just don't happen....do you suppose President Obama and his idea of giving back has planted a few seeds ?

    March 19, 2009 at 12:18 am |
  12. Lynn-Ann

    That's amazing! What a great way to turn negative into a positive. Good luck on this continued effort.

    March 19, 2009 at 12:14 am |
  13. charles

    I think this idea is absolutely fantastic. Is there a website to visit to find out where and when the next auction for the foreclosed homes would be held?

    March 18, 2009 at 11:58 pm |
  14. fran

    how can i get aboard with the 100.00 home deal.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:58 pm |
  15. Tom

    Great story. I am so glad to see a proactive and hopeful story about a Detroit turnaround.

    I have been away from American products (except for a 2002 Ford Thunderbird) for years and plan to replace my SAAB with a Lincoln MKZ this fall. I truly believe, Ford, GM and Chrysler will rise again.
    Model for model comparison, they're competative with Europe, Japan and Korea.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:56 pm |
  16. Anna from Nebraska

    There are wonderful incentives/deductions for Green Building that will help pay for themselves and leave less of an carbon footprint. There are all kinds of products that can be done from instructions on the internet. There are lots of books talking about the viability of green building.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  17. KatchProFILMS


    March 18, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  18. KIm

    A cool concept of innovation and creativity taking off for lots of fun work ! Can't wait to see that neighborhood in a year ! Hope they take lots of before and after pictures. Wow ! What a great deal on a house to re-design .

    March 18, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  19. cnnsuxass

    Liberals have ruined the economy and this country. Might as well paint a house.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:22 pm |
  20. Roshell in SW Iowa

    Wow, if I didn't have so many responsibilities here, I'd head to Detroit! I'm excited about the whole creative process they're starting. What an adventure.

    It's a community thing. If you've never been around something like this, I TOTALLY understand how you could never understand how it could work or maybe think it's stupid. My husband and I have moved 16 times in 21 years, and only found 2 places that were trying to do what these wonderful people are doing.

    I love the idea of the gardens for the neighboring kids. This will be a great place for the elders to congregate,also. Someplace they can go and feel safe with others around.

    I'd also like to hear how the neighborhood grows and afffects the area.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  21. Pamella

    It Is truly commendable, way to go!!

    March 18, 2009 at 9:49 pm |
  22. Pamella

    It is truly commendable, way to go!

    March 18, 2009 at 9:48 pm |
  23. Rose from Muscoy, Calif

    Have FAITH people, dream the impossibe dream! Lets think out of the box. YES WE CAN!

    March 18, 2009 at 8:37 pm |
  24. nick james

    A vacant lot in Detroit is worth about $600-.
    The house's sold in Detroit at these prices are not even remotely habitable.
    To buy an absolutly worthless house for $100-, and later pay $10,000- to tear it down makes no sense.

    Here is my plan for the housing industry.

    Assign each state a certain amount of money to purchase and tear down these houses, starting at the bottom price range.

    The empty lots would then be attactive to build new homes that are safe and habitable.

    March 18, 2009 at 8:31 pm |
  25. hindowashi

    I see this as a good thing. If enough people head back into the city and take root....perhaps it can begin to rebuild itself. I don't see how abandoning Detroit (or any other struggling city) would improve its condition. Bring people, open businesses, create jobs, etc.

    Detroit has been down and it may get worse...but you know what? It's people like this who will be part of the solution....not the problem. Kudos to them!

    March 18, 2009 at 8:25 pm |
  26. Gail Ellis Duncan

    Solutions are the key right here and now. Sure, we must not let dirty deeds get unpunished but we must find ways to build up our country/planet. Continue to travel, look, see and report so those that see can maybe be apart of the change needed. We must all find a way to work through this and unite. This is a must. If we do not, crime will rise and so will blame and hatred. Continue to show hope, care and unity. Take it to the streets and also let people know there is a web site to connect to the government and share your concerns, ideas and let your leaders know that you are staying in tune. Remember, we are the government folks!!! Take charge! Keep going my dear brother Anderson and mates!!!! Ain't no stoppin us now! Represent!

    March 18, 2009 at 8:14 pm |
  27. Annie Kate

    What a wonderful idea. A nice artist community that is green – and while it does take money to make the houses self sustaining once you do it your investment is paid back rather quickly when you don't have those electric/gas bills to pay each month. I think what they are doing is exciting and I wish them the best of luck. I hope they grow a beautiful large neighborhood where artists come to work and people come to watch the artists work.

    March 18, 2009 at 5:55 pm |
  28. Obama103m

    Hello fellow Americans,

    I am just one of the 103 million households that have fallen into difficult times. I remember during the Obama campaign we were courted and used in ads as families that need to be represented and wanted progress and change for our children in these uncertain financial conditions. Well the time has come to speak out and ask for the help to continue to survive.

    I propose and greatly need your help to make conscious to our leaders of this great country to help the people who help create this nation and sacrificed our financial gains to pay taxes so everyone could advance in their quest for the “American Dream”.

    Since the government has found it fit that it is time to bailout all these rich executives with bonuses and jobs maybe it’s time we get a piece of the pie.

    My solution is simple and without an economist educational background I propose that;

    Out of all the billions of tax dollars being given to these banks to take a 103 million and distribute One Million Dollars to each of 103 million households promoted during the electoral campaign.

    The government would still have many billions left over to give away and each household would have money to jump start the economy by now having the purchasing power and liquidate all debts owed to these banks.

    I don’t know the ramifications of this proposal since stated before that I’m not an economist but this is a consideration to be held.

    I encourage everyone to please submit to this website and let your local congressmen know your thoughts regarding your situation and this proposal.

    Together we can all make a difference again!

    March 18, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  29. audrey

    I think this is great. Leave it to young, creative, resourceful types to be able to turn something no wants into something better, and perhaps a new eco-neighborhood. But I'm also worried about these folks. I hope they are informed and not just blindly optimistic. There are dangers aside from the crime issues. Renovating older homes without the proper know how can cause many health/ environmental problems (something they never seem to address on the Home Channel renovation programs!). There is a good chance that these homes have asbestos-containing materials in them, as well as lead paint. And if the homes have external chipping lead paint, it could wind up in the soil. If this is the case, all soil should be tested before allowing children (children are more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults) to work in it to develop a community garden.
    I 'm not saying these problems should deter them, just that they should proceed with caution. They might need to consult abatement professionals, which could be very costly. Other than that bit of advice, more power to them!!

    March 18, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  30. Joe

    Cheers to the artists! But lets be clear, the areas of Detroit where these artists are buying up homes have been horrible for years. It's not a result of the recent recession. I'm a lifelong resident of Detroit and wish them all the best. I just don't have a lot of hope left. Corrupt administrations and bad planning has beaten it out of me.

    March 18, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
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