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Abstract

The state homestead exemption is the most widely known form of homesteading and exists in the majority if American jurisdictions. A new form of this plan has been added by many east coast cities that allows families to receive a grant of a home at a minimum price on condition that it occupies the residence and improves it to satisfy all applicable codes. The property is then transferred to the homesteader and this benefits both the city and the individual. This urban homesteading plan is the most recent program designed to promote urban renewal and home ownership. Wilmington Delaware was the first city to implement an urban homesteading program and Philadelphia is attempting to extend home ownership using this tactic as well. Urban homesteading will likely work for neighborhood improvement when the program has the ability to attract middle and upper class families. When the program attracts families with insufficient resources, it will be less likely to succeed. However, funds from the federal and state governments will likely provide the needed services. These neighborhood services would tie a new community together and prevent deterioration that lead to the abandonment in the first place. If Urban Homesteading becomes another plan for subsidizing low income housing, it may add to the confusion and failure that already exists as a result of past urban renewal programs. It is best used in smaller cities as over-extension could lead to the complete abandonment of these programs.

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