WARREN, Mich. -

The foreclosure crisis has forced the city of Warren to tear down hundreds of vacant homes.

The city has had to maintain the lots where the homes once stood. That includes taking care of weeds, high grass and garbage.

Now, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said the city is selling the properties for dirt cheap to adjacent property owners.

"The residents, for the small price of $1, can get this property," he said. "The only thing that they are precluded from doing is they cannot develop it as another home."

Fouts credits City Council for initiating the idea.

"There is just vacant city odd-lots that are too small to build on. They are just awkward little lots adjacent to homeowners that are just city-owned. They city pays to maintain them," said City Council member Kelly Coglio.

Coglio already has helped turn one lot into a community garden which is operated by Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church. The seeds were planted last June and offered a bountiful harvest which helped the church feed the needy.

"Now we can also include fresh vegetables which are really a great source of nutrition, as you know," said Rev. Roger Facione, of Mt. Calvary.

Resident Erin Southerland also wants a community garden in her neighborhood.

"My plan is for all the little kids in the neighborhood to get their own pumpkin plant so they can grow their own pumpkins," she said.

Homeowners also are allowed to buy the adjacent lots simply to extend the size of their yards.

The city has a list of the available properties. Fouts said people acquiring the lots would have to pay property taxes which is roughly $50 each year.

At $1 per lot, Fouts hopes to see plenty of buyers.

"If two neighbors want it they can split the lot," he said.

The city is compiling a list of eligible property owners.

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