One old Norfolk neighborhood has over 300 vacant lots. The city soon could be giving away free house plans to build on them.


Martha Rout put a fence on the lot beside her house but never cemented the posts.

In the yard, she arranged bricks scavenged from the old children’s hospital to form a square just large enough to keep a couple of plastic lawn chairs steady. She plunged four solar-powered stakes into the ground for summer nights. And when she got fed up with the old mulberry in the back overrun with ants, she took matters into her own hands with a chainsaw.

But the cacti she once planted along the edges – that’s where she lost her nerve, she said. She eventually pulled them out of the dirt.

Because none of it is hers....

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