The phrase “free land” today means free residential lots available to anyone pledging to build a new home in selected communities. As an incentive to entice new residents to repopulate areas of the Great Plains, this is a new and intriguing strategy. Free land programs are available in most Great Plains states, from North Dakota to Texas.
The above is from a University of Nebraska report, which also documents the experience of three of the Kansas towns who offer free land to anyone who’d
come and build a house.
As of October 2005, when the interviews were conducted, 27 of 33 available home lots in Minneapolis[KS] had been given away, as were all 80 lots in Marquette. In Marquette, six reserved lots became available again due to construction challenges in November of 2006. More than 100 people had relocated in Marquette, including more than 30 children. Although some people came to these communities to get a free lot to build on, most found it easier to buy an existing home. In Ellsworth County 122 new residents had been brought in by the program including 55 people from out of state.
The influx of new residents also brought some added benefits, according to the interviews:
! several new businesses as well as new ideas to the community,
! an improved positive (growing) community atmosphere that inspired long-time residents, and
! an increase in the ethnic diversity of the local population.
In a sense,then, there is still free land that puts a floor under wages. However, as a practical matter, many of the very poorest would be unable to qualify for and take up residence on the free land.