This may soon change. In an effort to revitalize the Englewood area, the city is selling 4,000 residential lots priced at just $1.
Tina Harbin, a homeowner, has lived for a dozen years on a block with an empty lot.
"My dream is to have this space where residents can gather in a community garden, come home and walk their dogs,'' Harbin said.
For just $1, the city is expected to sell the lot to the Harvard-Yale Homeowners' Association.
"To be able to transform it into something that adds value, long term. It's not an eyesore when you ride or walk down the street. It's something that's beautiful and just sets a different tone for the neighborhood,'' Harbin said.
Who can buy them? A homeowners' association or residents who live on the same block as the vacant lot. The resident must demonstrate the financial ability to maintain the lot and can't sell the lot for five years.
"We're looking for some buy-in to the community. We want homeowners, people that have a stake in the community to come in and invest in the community. Buy a lot, make it useful so you're property values can be maintained and increased,'' said Alderman Roderick Sawyer.
''It's a benefit for that particular block, vacant lots are an eyesore,'' said Dionne Baux of Lisc Chicago.
For Harbin, having a homeowners' association buy, improve and maintain these empty lots is more beneficial than spending hours simply picking up the trash.
''We have motivated homeowners that want to see this done, so we can handle it,'' Harbin said.
This lot offer is only available in the Englewood, Washington Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods to residents who live on the block with the vacant lot, and the deadline to apply for one is April 21, 2014. The city says that so far, only 150 applications have been submitted.
For more information on city-owned residential lots, go to: http://largelots.org