There was an article in the New York Times on March 7, 2015, that mentioned that there are 800 or so abandoned homes in the Bay Area city of Richmond. I think that fixing up run-down homes in less than opulent cities is one of the most viable, practical, and economical things that people wishing to create their own shelter could do in these times.
In fact, I make a point of shooting photographs of small homes in cities like Richmond, San Leandro, Hayward, Vallejo — nearby places where (some) neighborhoods are run down, but hopefully not infested with drug dealers and crime. I guess it’s a balancing act — if you can find a neighborhood that is on its way up, instead of one that is dangerous and has no hope for the future.
Detroit, for example, has scores of well-built small homes in decaying neighborhoods.
I sort of have a fantasy about fixing up an old place and planting a garden and making friends with the neighbors, who will be pleased that someone is improving their neighborhood. Having a house party and inviting the neighbors. People respond to positive action. It could work.
This will be one of the main subjects in our forthcoming book, Small Homes.