Many states have a multitude of very historic, large, beautiful properties that are in disrepair and if anyone has a background in building/repair they can generally take over these properties for free (they wont own them but they will have the rights to them for a very long time!) Its a wonderful program and a win/win for everyone! Its not perused by folks because those folks who have this ability are generally not the type to understand the politics, availability & negotiation/solicitation processes involved to get into it
Here is one link to explain it a little http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... epair.html
If someone needs a specific town/city the first place to start would be the local historic society & speaking to the town managers office (the town manager/mayors office will normally be aware of property the town cannot allocate money for yet cant tear down either). this is where you stake your claim and write your letters... if you can find a property that is owned by the state or town that is sitting in disrepair than by gosh you just found your residence for the next 25 years! remember ... everything is negotiable! if you don't mind be a caretaker and have ability to show you can do it (work experience, lic. previous testimony of others, etc.) its a wonderful thing that should be perused and made known more!