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. Russ Ravary

    It is a shame that you are leading people to think that the $100 houses are a "bargain". Most of them are inhabitable, burnt out, or dumps that you wouldn't house your dog in. Unfortunately the media capitalizes on the $100 house and you get people excited to buy one.
    I get calls and emails from around the world Canada, Australia, England, India all wanting to buy a $100 house for investment. The sahme is that a few years of dealing with the problems of being an absentee Detroit landlord most of these investors will be wanting to dump the properties back on the market within 5 years.
    How can you be a landlord with no experience from a 1000 miles away. It is another huge problem that is going to add to Detroit's housing problem. Absentee landlord land is a nightmare just coming to Detroit courtesy of sensational journalism.
    These young people are a select few that may have a small chance of turning a neighborhood around. I wish them the best but Detroit is headed for major problems soon because of the lack of property tax revenues from these $100 houses.
    I'm just a metro Detroit Realtor seeing disaster in the making.

    March 18, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  2. Jim

    If I HAD $100.00 I'd Gladly buy one!- They have the right idea – use solor & wind to power it Tell the utility co " You can Pay US! The Question is what are the PROPERTY TAXES???, Sewer, water rates?

    March 18, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  3. sharon from Indy

    Thirty years ago downtown Indianapolis looked like a ghost town. Today, it is full of hotels, Lucas Stadium, restaurants and people are moving and building homes in the downtown.

    Communities will recover, but while we are living in the middle of it, it isn't easy. I commend the artists for investing in Detroit. The ghost town will rise again!

    Also, AC360: I am going down to NOLA to work for Habitat for Humanity next month. We have heard they are closing down Camp Hope in June 2009. Is it funding? Obviously after hearing AC360 report on the great news about volunteers, I hope the recovery organizations will not shut down.

    March 18, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  4. Joanne Pacicca, Solvay, NY

    I believe that 30-40 years ago, Buckhead in Atlanta was rebuilt by the emerging young professionals. To this day, the once run down neighborhood is Atlanta's showpiece!

    March 18, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  5. M L

    There are people in Detroit who *have* been fixing up their homes *and* organizing community gardening projects. They just aren't white hipster artists, so they don't have CNN coming in to do photo shoots of their 'good work for the city'.

    Smells like gentrification to me. What would you do with a $100 house? How about use your privilege to fix it up so that people who already live in the city can live in it.

    March 18, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  6. Isabel, Brazil

    I may even be wrong, but in practice I see that the ecological houses (or sustainable houses) are not accessible to people in terms of cost, especially in times of crisis.
    I would like information on that.

    Another concern that should be considered is to build sustainable – sustainable construction is one that is concerned with the environment and health, which associates build and inhabit. That is, the building must have long useful life and use only material that even if demolition, no hits and the environment that can be recycled or reused.

    The environmentally and sustainable building is, above all, urbanism and environment in harmony. It is something great, but far from the reality of urban centers.

    March 18, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  7. Janet A

    I have agreed with all of the help that New Orleans has received and still needs, because the natural disaster it suffered.
    But, being a former Metro Detroiter; I am tired of the attention New Orleans is receiving, and Detroit is looked upon as a dying town and that it does not deserve any help. Detroit has contribute to this country a lot of it's own culture ( Motown) just like New Orleans has. It is suffering an economic disaster!!!

    All of the major news outlets need to spend more time focusing on the problems Detroit is suffering. It needs major influx of money and people to aid in it's recovery.

    I would like to see entertainment stars get involved and support programs to help the homeless; to start companies that will give jobs to the unemployed, to help rebuild neighborhoods, all so that people will want to move back to Detroit and make it a vibrant city it was once. Just like New Orleans is receiving.

    Hey Brad Pitt...come to Detroit and build homes!!!
    Jay Leno.....donated some money to food banks, besides just putting on a show!!!
    Let's have people come from all over the country to volunteer their time to help rebuild homes in Detroit!!!!

    People from others parts of the country need to understand that because of it's auto based economy; while the rest of the country is suffering a recession, Detroit always suffers a depression. Economic downturns, always starts sooner, is deeper, and lasts longer in Metro Detroit.

    Also, realize that that Detroit encompasses more then the city it's self; that there many, many, suburban cities around it, that range from blue collar to very wealthy areas. They are also affected; there are auto plants all round the Metro area, and there are companies that are suppliers, or offer services to the auto workers; when the auto companies suffer, everyone suffers in all of the surrounding cities.

    Detroit needs help; badly!!!!!

    March 18, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  8. penelope

    Wow good for them!!!

    March 18, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  9. jane MI

    @elisabeth, saw your comment and agree with you about artistic people buying older homes, restoring and renovating and now a desirable area to live...

    I think it's great what the artists are doing in Detroit!!!...(It makes me think of the wonderful improvements from in the past in certain neighborhoods in San Fran and Portland) Just think of what could be possible across the nation with a trend like this...

    March 18, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  10. Kate--Waterford, Michigan

    This is a great idea! We need a LOT MORE options like this–here and all over!! Ya know, if more folks had the "WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP AND GIVE BACK?" positive attitude than the "WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME, it's-never-going-to-work" attitude, imagine what we could do...Good Job and Good Luck!

    See y'all later–Kate

    March 18, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  11. CeeCee

    This city NEEDS a shot in the arm! I love the idea of an artist's enclave. Sometimes I think I'm the last one left IN the city. It's great to know that others' are viewing the city as a vital place to live, and if they can get inexpensive housing to boot, So BE IT!! Glad to see it!!

    March 18, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  12. Albert

    This is great to hear..but I honestly can't wait for tonights show on Anderson in Detriot..

    This is something serious in Detriot. I used to live there for four years, and i currently live in NY today where i was born and rasied and lived for here for 15 years. The second year of living in this great, quiet, kind area in Detriot(Sterling Heights) things just went down the pipes so fast. Jobs went totally out, homes were not able to be paid off, and neighborhoods did not look the same. There was a strip of houses that had signs out in front of the home. Either for sale, bankrupt, rent or foreclosure. It was horrible. If there was 20 houses in the whole strip, 12 of them would be either on sale or what so not. My parents had the house for sale for 2 years, and we just kept lowering the price down till finally someone bought it. But it took 2 years! While it was on sale, my father ended up going back to NY, lived with his brothers family and worked to help us pay off and bill. Luckily, he is still working where he has been for 20 plus years. This shows on how MI economy was HORRIBLE. Just horrible.

    March 18, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  13. kristen

    It’s amazing the hope that a few people can bring into a neighborhood. People with hope, passion and innovative ideas are what have made this country great in the past and which will hopefully pull America up on stronger economical lets. Artists seem to be the first to move into rundown parts of town. Investors with fatter wallets soon follow. Before you know it that rundown neighborhood is suddenly a trendy place to live.

    Keep up the wonderful reporting!

    March 18, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  14. Mary B. Honan

    I wonder if something like this could be done in my neighbourhood since the stimulus containNo Bail outs for us as Government Lands destroy and contaminated our homes and health from the wetlands that surround us. However, some people feel none of the stimulus should clean up wetlands. I have gone without heat and hot water in the height of winter because another furnace was destroyed; I have become sick from the contaminated water pouring into my home. I have seen my 87 year old neighbor looking ashen as he tries to push out the government lands filthy swamp water, He is a good man who served in world war 2- I have appealed to the Governor Patrick, the D.C.R. only to be told "Its nature and we need to learn to deal with it because of the strict laws protecting government land. We are all hard working people who pay our mortgage and taxes and this how we are forced to live. I doubt if this will get any attention or even any little help from the stimulus to clean up those government lands-

    March 18, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  15. Michele

    I live 10 min. from Detroit and work downtown. The "abandoned buildings, burned out houses and foreclosure signs" are NOT "examples of how hard this already struggling neighborhood has been hit by the current economic crisis." It's ALWAYS been like that here as long as I can remember. Yes, we have been hit harder than other areas due to our ties to the automotive industry and our lousy governor, but I'm sick of the media not telling the real story of what is really going on here.

    I feel bad for these people for wasting their $100 and whatever else they invest into these houses because they WILL get robbed. I'm not trying to be negative, but until people say it like it is things certainly will NEVER change around here.

    March 18, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  16. Mari

    What would I do with a $100 dollar house?? I would fix it up, with the help of Habitat for Humanity; and give it to a family to live in.

    We have Americans living in tent cities, all over our Nation. We need to give them a "hand-up".

    This is why we, the majority, who are still employed, need to be good stewards and shop and go out to eat ..... ALL within our budgets.

    We need to keep the economy going so people can keep their jobs.

    (fear is not from God!)

    March 18, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  17. Jill

    Way to go Detroit! As a Michigan native, I know how long Detroit has needed a shot in the arm.

    What Detroit needs right now is HOPE, and Michigan folks will step in and do it themselves... we don't wait for bailouts.

    I am really proud of what these people are doing, and I know that folks in the neighborhood will appreciate it too.

    They are lighting a candle in an innovative, heart-warming way that can only inspire others to keep up the good fight, and soldier through this bleak time in our history.

    March 18, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  18. Kelly

    I live near this area. I think its great what they are doing with these homes. There are many neighborhoods like this. Detroit could be a great city and not only for the casinos. We just need to clean up the city.

    March 18, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  19. Coline

    I think this is a great idea. Kids painting a veggie garden is a awesome to keep children out of trouble & give children the chance to discover talents they otherwise would have never known they had. Hopes this spreads.

    March 18, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  20. ken wilson

    AIG is an example of capitalism and free market gone MAD!!!
    The bonus is legal because the US Gov did not ask for a change in the company policies before giving them the bailout money, hence the out cry by the US Gov is just to cover their STUPIDITY and SHAME.

    March 18, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  21. Rebekah

    I think it’s a great idea. Un-like the last negative comment great ideas and dreams start from almost nothing and turn into worldwide movements. I think the only way to turn this country around is to walk together hand in hand through the darkness, and eventually we will see light.

    March 18, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  22. Brian P


    March 18, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  23. Philip

    I think it's great if they can pull it off, I wish something like that would happen in MD. My wife and I are afraid we may never me able to afford a decent home

    March 18, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  24. David Nash

    "Props!...to these artists, I think this a greta idea!...Good for all them!
    If more people did this all around the Country, it would be a much better, nicer place we all live in. I hope they all turn it into a newly renovated home that one day could be worth a $ 1,000.000.00 dollars."

    March 18, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  25. jim foster

    If you are outraged at how Congress and the government are overseeing (owning) AIG, what incompetencies could we expect from Congress and the government overseeing (owning) government-run healthcare? Just throw tax-payer money at the problem and hope for the best?

    The solution for reducing the cost of healthcare is tort reform.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  26. Stela Rotescu

    I am a happy CANADIAN! not very good w/ computer but good w/ dictionaries
    I checked two dictionaries for the word:"bonus"

    According to Oxford Dictionary: "bonus"means:

    1/ a sum of money added seasonally to a person's wage for GOOD PERFORMANCE !
    2/(Brit) an extra divident paid to shareholders
    3/ an unexpected extra benefit
    4/ a distribution of profitd to holders of an insurance policy

    According to Cambridge Dictionary: "bonus" means:

    1/an extra amount of money that is given to you as a present or REWARD ( a reward for what ?)
    2/ a productive bonus

    Only if people would know more about the ethymology of words....
    Stela from Canada

    March 18, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  27. Katherine

    Thats fantastic to hear! What areas are there houses for $100-$500? How can others do the same?

    March 18, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  28. Antoine

    I like the concept too! More power to them and I wish them much success in accomplishing their goals on improving the neighborhood. I wish everyone had their tenacity and initiative! If so a lot of our neighborhoods would actually feel like we had neighbors living next door and not just strangers we see in passing. Going green does cost and take green out of our pockets initially but so do your regular repairs and utilities! Going green will eventually save you money. Going green is an investment! It's an investment toward immediate economic relief and future destruction of our already vanishing environment! The idea is to get more people to buy the houses to live in, to prevent the crime. No doubt, our world has problems, but more emphasis should be on solutions. If there hasn't been a solution to the problems, then we should focus on creating them! For example, what are some ways that we can go green and save some green? "Going Green," has become the new fad, so it's all over the news. I'm sure there are plenty of ways that have already been suggested that they could use to making their neighborhood green! Another point is they are artist, and artist don’t think like other people. That’s why they’re artists. Let them live and creatively solve some problems their way. We need everyone to positively contribute in their own way despite our differences. They have me motivated to do some research and possibly buy a house there myself! If you're interested maybe we all can create an investment group and create own bail out for these dying communities! Have a good one...

    March 18, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  29. GF, Los Angeles

    What they're not putting into a mortgage these artists are able to invest in the turbines and solar panels. More power to them and boo to the naysayers.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  30. TC

    I think it’s a great idea. People think it takes tons of money to go green, but it doesn't. The cost of going green rise when you set your home up to run the way it did before you went green. It's not just about the green technology you accrue; it’s the green frame of mind that makes going green work. The most important part of going green is knowing the difference in what you need and what you want. BTW you can learn how to make your own solar and wind energy gadgets for around $200 on free sites like YouTube.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  31. Brenda

    As an artist just outside of Detroit, I'm definitely interested in hearing more about this project. Like many in the area, money isn't great for me right now but this neighborhood sounds like a dream come true.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  32. Michelle Scott

    Cindy, the driving force of economic growth is jobs. Somebody has to produce the green products that will be needed. Somebody has to install the products. Somebody has to push the manual lawnmowers and deliver their mail and fill their canvas grocery bags. Then, somebody in turn has to work the fast-food drive through window for the people that are doing all those things for the people with money.

    When the people left those neighborhoods, the people needed to sustain their needs left as well, and it snowballed. What these people with nothing but money will do is reverse the trend.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  33. Maria

    Despite challenges, hope always up and I admire them for re-inventing their future in clean green way.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:22 am |
  34. Kristin

    What strikes me most about this article is that these people are not looking for Big Brother government to come in and help. They have taken it upon themselves to follow through with an idea that is good for everyone. This could have gone very differently. Young couple has an idea to renovate neighborhood and then applies for various gov't grants and partnerships for funding and then three years later begins to transform rough neighborhood. No. This used to be "The American Way", bootstraps and all that. Inspiring to see that there may still be hope yet.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  35. Carless CARIN

    How much can HOUSES go for at AUCTIONS????



    March 18, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  36. Jose Medina

    Mr. Cooper I want to thank you for commentary and your travel efforts to let the American people voice their opinion. Many nights I lay in bed with my wife and watch your show. It is amazing to see how many people are really struggling to get their lives back in some type of order. I am a full time police officer and I have a consulting firm which we do training and consulting for law enforcement specialized training as well as military. How I wish my company could grow to help many soldiers coming out of the war finishing their tours as they look for jobs. I am always thinking of ways to be part of the solution to some of these problems and your show helps to motivate me in my efforts. I could only imagine on what it would feel like as a dad or mom says goodnight to their children letting them know it would all be okay but when the little ones go to bed, the tears that may fall from mom and dad is a heart wrenching thought. I put myself in that mode in my life to keep me pushing forward. Thank you again and perhaps when this corruption ends in this country maybe they will have seen giving each American tax payer family 250,000.00 might have been a better solution to this problem then to give this money to hungry, greedy corporate monsters who have some of our politicians in their pockets. Watch the mannerisms of some politicians when they are interviewed and asked about this mess with AIG: Some are hiding something.

    Thank you again for you efforts


    Jose Medina

    March 18, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  37. meenas17

    There are still some good people with fantastic ideas among us.
    The artist duo are to be appreciated for their novel attempt.
    Green energy homes,a concept that will work wonders and make the world a wonderful place to live in.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  38. petalice

    Great idea...wish I could do the same to my home, but it is much too expensive for me to install solar paneling or a wind turbine. Cindy is right, only those with money will benefit from the eventual savings not to mention they most likely will get tax credits for having enough money to buy this stuff.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  39. Jenni Goossens

    i want to know where i can get houses for $100 but detroit is a bit too far.......any opportunities like this closer to the midwest ...i.e. Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, ..... i participate in comunities like this in SecondLife .......would really love to do it in RL too.....

    March 18, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  40. Fran

    In Rochester we have a resturant that is totally sustainable called Mind, Body Spirits. What's the best part? The owner is really getting the community involved with ways to be sustainable. Even donating green friendly items to the local schools to cut down on landfill waste. The local schools can tour the resturant to see how the future will look.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  41. prettyblkgyrl

    I think it is a great idea in theory. & it takes these kind of people to rejuvenate a neighborhood like this.

    I hope CNN continues to follow the development of this.

    March 18, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  42. Gena

    I live 45 miles north of the city and I am so excited to see this happening. God's blessings to all who are doing this, this is the best thing this city has seen in years. Detroit was once a beautiful place!

    March 18, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  43. Alex: Baton Rouge, LA

    Well, welcome to Michigan, probably the most effected by the financial and economic crisis. I hope that Anderson will really show how bad the situation is, and why it's effecting Michigan harder than other states.

    Showing that there was a $100 house on the market in the Detroit metropolitan area is great propaganda expressing to our public officials what US citizens have to deal with. A house should never cost near $100. If a house was sold at $100, it is an indisputable fact that we are in yet another Great Depression.

    March 18, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  44. Amanda

    Cindy, what you're saying may all be true. But if they can turn is around and make that neighborhood a great place to live again, and spure that all on, then that's awesome!

    The work these artists are planning to do is going to take skilled people to make it happen, and that's job creation. If a whole neighborhood, is being transformed to a green way of living that's a whole lot of job creation. If this trend moves forward and happens all around the country then it will be amazing to see what happens!

    I truly hope this works, and that people can see the power of how looking creatively at a bad situation can create some really wonderful results.

    People need to stop thinking so negatively right off the bat, and give support to those who are going against the odds and really working to make a change!

    March 18, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  45. Elizabeth

    I think its amazing that these artists are undertaking this project.

    In my City artistic people started to buy up older homes, in the old section of the City. They renovated them, restored them, gave them a facelift and now their prices are sky-high.

    It started a trend, and now its a desirable, accessible area to live in because its close to the downtown core. Its quaint how the artistic and the down-and-outs simply co-exist together, in the same neightborhood.

    March 18, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  46. Glenna Bates

    I think it's great!

    March 18, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  47. Glenna Bates

    I think it's great!

    March 18, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  48. HannaB

    It gives me hope.

    March 18, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  49. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    My hat off to the artists-–at $100/house--why not buy the neighborhood?

    March 18, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  50. Cindy

    Well if you have a job and money then this could be a great idea but seeing that Detroit has an extremely high jobless rate I don't see this helping anyone but the ones who have jobs and money saved up.

    And lets be realistic here. Even without a mortgage how are they going to afford being all green with solar energy, wind turbines and all. That stuff is not cheap! My guess is these people have a nest egg that they can use or they are going to borrow from the bank to do it. If they think they can turn this community around more power to them. But the ones vandalizing the unowned homes will just come back to rob the new homes.


    March 18, 2009 at 10:30 am |
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