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One-dollar house mirrors hollow out of Detroit

By Zhang Baoping, Madison Wang (Xinhua)

14:08, March 31, 2013

DETROIT, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Detroit bargain properties are very interesting with low-end homes being listed for as low as one dollar.

One of such listings is located at 9385 Pryor Street near Lake St. Clair. The colonial-style house with three bedrooms was built in 1905 at a busy area in the past. With a close look, what one can see is a rotten shell rather than a house. The power cabinet is exposed on the wall, broken wires dangle in rooms, and the inside walls are chipping. There are holes on the corridors on the ground floor while dead rodents and bird feathers can be seen on the second floor.

Broker Robert Hakim said, "No plumbing, no power, no kitchen and no living room. Just a shell. It is necessary to rebuild for residence."

When a middle-aged African American was asked about the neighborhood, he said, "This is a ghost city." As for the question about what local people live on, he said "bang, bang" -- shooting and robbery are common.

Those properties tell the story of decline of the "Motor City." When Detroit was rising in the 1940s and 1950s, people from different regions flocked to the city. Detroit had a population of 1.85 million in 1950. The "Motor City" declined in the following decades as many young people left while the aged reduced by natural attrition. As the population has shrunk 60 percent to some 700,000, the street is dim, the police are poor funded, the transit buses cannot run regularly while the neighborhood is roamed by drug addicts and shooting suspects.

With turn of the millennium, relocation of manufacturing results in further migration -- Detroit lost 25 percent of its population from 2000 to 2010. As migration increased empty houses and depressed housing price, the municipal government was struggling in finance. According to Detroit News, about a half of house owners in the city did not pay property tax in 2012 with accumulated amount of 131 million dollars, or 12 percent of the municipal revenue. Detroit News also reported that the city has to borrow loans to keep the municipal operation and payment of pension.

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