Fighting Blight In Memphis: Burned-Out Houses

Fighting Blight In Memphis: Burned-Out Houses

Burned out houses are causing big problems for Memphis neighborhoods.
MEMPHIS, TN - Burned out houses are causing big problems for Memphis neighborhoods. The homes just sit there for months, even years, before anything is done about them. Neighbors say that needs to change. Eyewitness News first reported the problem last month. Now, neighbors say they're finally getting results, but there's still a long way to go.

A burned out house on Stone Gap Cove in Southeast Memphis has been sitting there for months. Neighbors say not only is it killing their property values, but check out the pool, it's an accident waiting to happen.

“Look at this. This is a swimming pool,” said Rev. Earl Terrell, President of the Villages of Bennington Neighborhood Association.

Terrell says he is tired of seeing this burned out house sit here.

“This is an eyesore,” he said. “And, not only is it an eyesore, it's a danger.”

It's one of many homes around the city where a fire's made it unlivable, and then neighbors have to live with it.

“Our problem is we cannot locate the owner of the property,” said Rev. Terrell.
With mortgages, foreclosures, out of town owners and overlapping city and county code enforcement, it's tough to figure out where to point the finger.

“We need to change the way that burned out houses are handled,” said Burlington Area Neighborhood Association President Lynda Whalen.

Whalen has been dealing with a disaster area of her own in her neighborhood. Fire destroyed a house on Glenroy in December. We told you about it a month ago. This week, for the first time, workers are there rebuilding.

“I think it would still be the way it was, had we not brought this to the attention of the public,” said Whalen.

The out-of-state owner says he blames the bank. He says it got the insurance money and has yet to cut him a check. Whalen says the banks are the biggest problem, and they're in the middle of several lawsuits.

“I know their inventory is huge, but you know what, my inventory is huge too,” said Whalen. “We have 4,000 homes out here and 600 foreclosed, vacant, abandoned, whatever you want to call them, there's nobody in them, and we take that seriously.”

Rev. Terrell says he doesn't want to have to wait as long.

“We really don't want to wait two years to get this taken care of,” he said. “And, at the rate it's going now, it's going to be two years or more.”

Neighbors say if the city isn't going to tear the house down, they should at least do a better job of boarding it up and keeping people from getting into this backyard, you can walk right through the gate.

Despite the work being done on the house on Glenroy, Lynda Whalen says she and her neighborhood association will be keeping a close eye on construction, because she's seen a lot of issues with the bank in the past.
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