Those who have lived in Memphis their entire lives might be accustomed to seeing abandoned commercial buildings, boarded-up homes and dilapidated storefronts. However, they might not realize the effect that this issue, known as blight, has on their lives.
“Memphis is among places where the culture of blight has deep roots,” said Joe Schilling, a nationally renowned blight expert with the Urban Institute. “People have become numb to seeing blighted properties, and out of fear or frustration, it is being ignored.”
Blight falls under the category of urban decay and is often accompanied by high unemployment, crime and fragmented families. Blight cannot be attributed to one single cause but is instead a result of a combination of factors. Established in late 2015, the Blight Authority of Memphis is now working to access grant funds to demolish blighted properties and clean up the corresponding real estate.
According to Neighborhood Preservation Inc., there are an estimated 13,000 vacant lots and structures in Memphis that qualify as blighted. These properties pose a physical, economic and social danger to our city.
On the physical side, the likelihood of mold, asbestos and lead-based paint in these blighted properties is extremely high. By performing hundreds of site inspections a year, Tioga Environmental Consultants keeps Memphians safe from these toxic hazards.
Tioga has also helped property buyers considering redevelopment projects in Memphis’ downtown Edge district by doing historical investigations and taking samples to ensure that the buildings and properties in the once automotive center are good investments.
On March 17, the Memphis Blight Elimination Summit was held at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law to celebrate the release of the Memphis Blight Elimination Charter and Action Plan and to highlight the many cutting-edge programs and projects underway in Memphis. Additional sessions were held on code enforcement, environmental court, land banking and greening.
While we are on the right track, clearing the city of blight will take time and a unified effort. We are proud to say that Memphis is a leader among cities across the nation fighting blight.
"These people deserve to live in a clean, safe neighborhood," said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. "That's why the work is so important to all of us."