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Blight cleared in Memphis' "forgotten" Walker Homes community after ABC24 story airs

The group of neighbors is saying their triumph shows how one voice can make an impact.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This week, residents in Walker Homes are relieved after piles of illegal dumping and debris were picked up by the city.

A group of neighborhood advocates reached out to ABC24 wanting to notify the city that the neighborhood needed cleaning. 

They were happy to call back saying things were looking much better.  

“Because of your story and J. Ford Canale and Keith Ferguson, that’s why we got the response so quickly,” said resident Mary Murphy.   

Last week, Murphy called ABC24 fed up with illegally dumped trash, debris and tires lining the streets she grew up on.  

“Somebody forgot something and the proof is in the pudding," Murphy said. "You saw the pictures, you did the story so they did forget, but that’s OK, because we back and we’re going to do it and we’re going to get it together.”  

“It should be encouragement to all Memphians that if you’re not pleased with something going on in your neighborhood, it’s OK to speak out,” shared community advocate Terita Hewlett. 

Just three business days later, ABC24 learned public works crews answered the call by picking up trash that’d been there for weeks. 

The city said reports of illegal dumping have spiked 300-400% since the pandemic.  

Even so, Murphy said the community was "forgotten."

“Pandemic, non-pandemic, COVID, the bird flu, whatever you want to call it, their community is not looking like this," said Murphy. "I guarantee you it’s not, so to me, there are no excuses.” 

The group of neighbors is saying their triumph shows how one voice can make an impact.

“Just because you see a little bit of blight, get some friends together or call 311. If they’re taking too long, do it yourself,” said Tim Green Jr., who grew up in the Walker Homes neighborhood.  

Advocate Will Richardson said that when it comes to the impacts of blight, it’s not only about physical health but also psychological. 

“We’re breaking generational curses by keeping our community clean," said Richardson. "Now our children are healthier but they’re also happier. They can play in the yard, ride their bicycles without busting their tires over broken glass or have to worry about dodging couches.” 

If you want to get involved, the neighborhood is holding its own clean-up day this Saturday at 9 a.m.

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