Camden residents to get homes for $1

January 12, 2011 3:38:03 PM PST
Some Camden residents may be able to buy their homes for $1, after all.

Back in 1992, the unusual deal was struck in Camden.

Developer Israel Roizman made a deal with the Camden and New Jersey governments to buy and fix up 91 townhouse units scattered across 65 buildings. In return, he promised to sell the units to their tenants for $1 each after 15 years.

"After a period of 15 years, you would own the house for a dollar, one dollar, and that was great," tenant Marta Colon said.

Marta was one of the original tenants and has raised six children while living in her house. She says her 15 years should have been up in 2007, but so far she has not been able to buy her home.

Marta Colon says she has been ready to put up her dollar for her house for several years now. But she and several others faced all sorts of official foot dragging. There are apparently missing government documents and, reportedly, there are still several large mortgages that have gone unpaid.

Some were told the new buyers would have assumed huge debts. There has been confusion; it looked like the deal was dead until yesterday.

The Cooper Foundation, the charitable arm of Cooper University Hospital, announced Tuesday that it's stepping in to fulfill the housing developer's promise.

"Our goal here is to get home ownership in the hands of those legitimately entitled to that homeownership," chairman George Norcross III said.

Those are the first encouraging words Marta has heard in a long time.

"I'm hoping it will work. If the deal was for a dollar, it should be done for a dollar," Marta said.


The Associated Press contributed to this article.