Blight is vacant or derelict structures and unmaintained property, usually characterized by litter, dumping, and abandoned personal property.

Neighborhood Preservation, Inc. estimates that at least 13,000 structures or vacant lots in Memphis qualify as being “blighted.” At least 10,000 properties are addressed a year for high weeds and grass concerns by City. Low population density, particularly within the core city, allows blight to spread almost unabated in some neighborhoods.

While there are a lot of blight initiatives going on in Memphis, an overarching, coordinated approach that would maximize existing efforts and attract new resources is not in place. As a result, self-perpetuating with a “culture of blight” is allowed to take hold, eroding the aesthetic standards of a community and frustrating other abatement efforts. Similarly, illegal dumping and littering activities are frequently committed by individuals passing through neighborhoods with no long-term stake in their condition or livability.

Some property owners would like to remediate the condition of their properties do not understand the full costs of doing so, which prevents them from taking action. Policymakers, program administrators, frontline inspectors, courts, and property owners all need to know where their abatement efforts would be most fruitful.

If we are going to effectively and permanently remove blight from our neighborhoods – and prevent its spread — Memphis and Shelby County need a single, focused strategy: the Memphis Neighborhood Blight Elimination Charter.