Blighted properties have plagued Memphis and Shelby County for many years and have no simple fix. However, several governmental and private organizations, neighborhood associations, and community members are devoted to addressing this problem from multiple angles, including policy reform, affordable housing initiatives, home improvement grants, community clean-ups, and more. While these groups have made impressive progress, a collaborative effort to target and address blighted properties is the only way to truly tackle this widespread issue.
To address these concerns, Memphis and Shelby County came together to pass the Memphis Blight Elimination Charter in 2015. This Charter creates a standardized framework, allowing these organizations and government entities to more effectively and permanently remove blight from our neighborhoods, and prevent its spread. From the charter, the Blight Elimination Steering Team was formed, which provides a space for partners in the fight against blight to come together and collaborate on the most important issues facing our community.
Past action plans have led to successes such as:
1. Memphis Blighted Property Dashboard launched to track key blight indicators
2. Neighborhood Reports launched as a component of the Memphis Property Hub
3. Monthly community engagement sessions hosted for interested stakeholders
4. Pilot program created for neighborhood blight mitigation strategies
5. International Property Maintenance Code drafting completed
6. Amendments to Neighborhood Preservation Act passed by state legislature
7. Maps and data about \Top Ten Code Violators” released quarterly
8. Plan to resolve top ten vacant properties completed
9. Small Developers Bootcamp launched with community partners
10. Toolkit of resources for BEST Roadshow presentations created collectively
We work hard to achieve agreed upon action items that will move the City of Memphis
closer to a blight-free future where there are no vacant and abandoned properties and
where communities do not suffer the financial and social costs of having blighted properties
as neighbors. We undertake our work as a team to further our individual efforts to
empower and improve neighborhoods.
To better address the issue of vacant and abandoned properties from all angles, the Blight Elimination Steering Team has four committees. The Data committee works to adopt standard indicators of blighted property and compile, update, and make data broadly available to more accurately document, measure, and track trends about different types of blighted properties in Memphis. The Code Enforcement committee strives to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and coordination of Code Enforcement and “neighborhood maintenance” policies and efforts. The Reclaim and Reuse committee encourages productive reuse of vacant properties and promotes a culture across Memphis that when it comes to vacant and abandoned property, doing nothing is not an option. The Community Engagement committee works to engage neighborhood residents, businesses, and community groups as essential partners to resolve blighted properties. These committees work both independently and collaboratively, each specializing in one aspect of blight prevention and remediation but working together to more effectively address this important issue.