Fighting Blight for Nine Years and Counting

NEIGHBORHOOD PRESERVATION INC.

A Holiday Letter From the NPI President

By Steve Barlow

On December 1, 2019, Neighborhood Preservation, Inc. turned nine years old.  I am grateful to all the people who have joined me in committing time, treasure and talent to the work of eliminating barriers to neighborhood revitalization. Together, we have created a powerful network of problem solvers across our community.   

In 2020 we will have our fourth Neighborhood Blight Elimination Summit where we honor leaders in the community who are making a difference every day in Memphis neighborhoods. Our partner, the University of Memphis Law School, has now trained nearly 100 law students on how to aggressively litigate complex blighted property issues through the Neighborhood Preservation Legal Clinic. Also with the Law School, we will co-host the fourth annual Strategic Code Enforcement Management Academy (“SCEMA”) in March.  SCEMA is an opportunity for teams from cities across the country to learn from the best national leaders in code enforcement and to develop a strategy for their own community.  

In 2019, NPI launched a “Community Advisory Board” comprised of neighborhood leaders in the areas where we have been active in innovative projects. 

For example, Frayser is represented on the board. In Frayser, NPI is helping to facilitate the redevelopment of about 150 units of affordable housing. In the Klondike neighborhood, NPI worked alongside Klondike Smokey City CDC and The Works, Inc. to secure 150 county owned lots from Shelby County to guarantee long-term community control. In Riverside and in the Medical Center, we are partnering with local residents and other stakeholders to develop and maintain community gardens on vacant lots.   

Meanwhile, we have been hard at work on developing and strengthening local and state law and policy that impacts abandoned real estate, specifically in the areas of land banking, property tax foreclosure and property maintenance enforcement.  

We know that we still have a long way to go to make every neighborhood free of the negative impacts of property blight. But I am encouraged by the progress we have made, and even more so by the people who make that progress possible. Imani, Quincy and Janet are some of those people – and many others are featured in the feature-length documentary from Pigeon Roost, In The Absence, being screened this month by NPI. I am grateful for 9 years of collaboration, and eager to see what NPI’s 10th year holds in store! <>

In The Absence will be screened Friday, December 13 at 4PM at the University of Memphis.

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