Carolyn Bethea and Gloria Abner thought one buck would make them each homeowners.
"I was in shock," remembers Carolyn, who says "I jumped around was like, oh yeah make me a believer!"
It's a deal that sounded too good to be true, and so far it has turned out that way.
As part of a 1992 agreement intended to help reduce the widespread urban blight in Camden, New Jersey, real estate developer Israel Roizman rehabilitated 91 properties in the city. His company collected government subsidized rent and agreed to offer to sell the homes to the low-income tenants after 15 years, for the unbeatable price of one dollar.
But with a multimillion-dollar mortgage on the properties still not paid back, that house for a dollar hasn't happened. Both women say they were suddenly thrown out of their rentals without getting the opportunity to buy the homes that all these years they thought would be theirs.
"I was devastated that my dollar dream and my dollar house was kicked to the curb," says Carolyn, as she held up a one dollar bill in the freezing wind of a Camden winter. "I mean, this dollar house kicked to the curb," she laments.
Gloria says that living in the apartment meant that she "finally landed on my feet here," but now is "so heartbroken" because she says she was evicted from the dream home for her and her family.
“I really would love to go home and have the memories that I had of my kids being in high school, and going into the army, and finishing school,” she said as she stood at the doorway of her former apartment. The biting wind blew her hair, as she related having been homeless until she qualified for the dollar deal.
“I’m waiting to get my home. I have the dollar, and I’m still waiting, in the cold, actually,” she explained.
The developer's attorney, Leon Sokol, tells Fox News that Roizman is willing to honor the deal, but he explains that it is not as simple as just turning over the deed in exchange for a dollar. He says there are questions about the upkeep of common areas and notes that the responsibility for the mortgage must be resolved. He says his client "is working very hard to try to accomplish what those 1992 documents appear to say which is that a qualified purchaser can purchase these units for $1 subject to the existing mortgages and we're trying to figure out what that means… We assume when they say qualified purchasers they mean people who are financially able to own an apartment."
A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of all 91 residents, seeking to enforce the dollar deal.
"They were promised that they could buy these properties for a dollar, their right has vested, and we're looking to see that promise is carried out," says Joseph Green, one of the residents' attorneys. "What we have here is a situation where these women...were trying to realize the American dream and become homeowners....hopefully we can come to an amicable solution for all parties involved."
"They thought they were being helped, but in fact they were being harmed," claims fellow residents' attorney Geoffrey Seay. "We want them to have homes. They were entitled to these homes."
For now the women have moved elsewhere, hoping to return to their former homes and have the agreement they relied on enforced.
"I hope something comes out of it that is good," Carolyn says. "After 18 years, what do you think? I'd like to believe that the dollar house comes true."