By bringing together public officials, institutions, nonprofits, and civic and community organizations, Memphis has become a national model for waging a collaborative, cross sector campaign to address blighted properties. For the past two years VPR Network Co-Director Joe Schilling, working with and for Memphis intermediary Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., has helped local leaders launch the 2016 Memphis Blight Elimination Charter.
Compared to other cities, such as Detroit and Flint, MI, that have blight action plans and elements, Memphis’ Blight Charter establishes a shared vision and core principles and goals to work across agencies, change the culture of blight, and test new strategies.
- Blight Elimination Steering Team (BEST) and Action Plan: Following in the footsteps of Cleveland’s VAPAC, Memphis’s BEST meets monthly to reform, revise, and adopt new programs and policies, consistent with a consensus based blight elimination action plan. BEST is now supported by the city’s first real property information system—the Memphis Property HUB.
- Annual Blight Summit: With support from Mayors of Memphis and Shelby County, more than 150 local leaders came together in March 2016 at the city’s first blight summit to celebrate their collective efforts and to reaffirmed their commitment to “make all neighborhoods free from blight,” In signing the nation’s first blight elimination charter, it was critical for Memphis to have a trusted intermediary—Neighborhood Progress Inc.—leading and supporting the process and focusing the charter on community priorities and capacities. Another Blight Summit is set for May 2017 and seems it will become a regular Memphis event.