Blighted properties are vacant or derelict structures and unmaintained property, usually characterized by litter, dumping, and abandoned personal property.

In 2015, data analyses estimated that at least 13,000 structures or vacant lots in Memphis qualified as being “blighted.” At least 10,000 properties are addressed for high weeds and grass concerns each year by the City. Low population density, particularly within the core city, allows blight to spread almost unabated in some neighborhoods.

With no coordinated approach to fighting blight, the self-perpetuating “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 but do not understand or cannot afford the full costs of doing so, which prevents them from taking action.

Many organizations and community members are dedicated to the fight against blighted properties in Memphis, but a lack of coordination can limit the success and resources brought in through these efforts. Policymakers, program administrators, front line inspectors, courts, and property owners all need to know where their abatement efforts would be most fruitful.

To more effectively and permanently remove blight from our neighborhoods – and prevent its spread – Memphis and Shelby County passed the Memphis Blight Elimination Charter in 2015 for an overarching, coordinated approach that would maximize existing efforts and attract new resources. From this Charter, the Blight Elimination Steering Team was born, bringing interested organizations together for a more coordinated effort in remediating blight.

To learn more about our founding and our charter, watch this short video: