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Shelby County Commissioners create new committee to set up guidelines for investors and developers

“It’s time out for ignoring taxpayers,” said Henri E. Brooks, Shelby County Commissioner D-7.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In May, we told you about Binghampton residents being forced out of their homes due to redevelopments. During our Let’s Talk ABC 24 town hall, we spoke with some of those residents who say they are struggling to find somewhere else to live. 

ABC24 sat down with another family and a Shelby County commissioner who broke down what the country is doing to support residents.

It happens time and time again. 

“A lot of people in poverty areas or low-income areas don’t know what their rights are,” said James Babb, a Binghampton resident. 

That is his key to fighting back. Babb and his wife live in the Waynoka neighborhood in Binghampton.

The homes have been bought by Memphis investor, Cameron Ellis, who’s put roughly $2 million towards redevelopments. 

“Someone came around with a badge on stating that we have to move out by the end of the month. There wasn’t any dialogue or question as to if this is true. Are you a month-to-month tenant or are you a lease?” asked Babb.

While many residents started leaving, others reviewed their options. 

“I got a lawyer. We are not month-to-month,” said Babb. 

That bought him time.

Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone. 

“We’ve been here for eight years. A lot of the residents have been here 40-plus. I know it’s hard on them,” said Babb.

“They’re displaced to another land almost. They’re displaced from their church, their relatives in the communities, just everything that they’ve known,” said Henri E. Brooks, Shelby County Commissioner District 7.

Brooks said commissioners are working to fix this very problem. They have created the Tax Increment Financing committee. 

“We’re trying to make sure that those developers who get tax increment financing engage those communities where they want to do development and revitalization,” said Brooks. “It’s time out for ignoring taxpayers.”

Commissioners will make guidelines for local and out of town developers.

“When developers come in and do their development, displace, or move people out, sometimes they communicate to people that you can come back. You can surely come back, but what they fail to say is that the rent is going to be higher,” said Brooks. “What we’re saying in this document is that you can’t do that anymore.”

The goal is to ensure residents are able to move back into their homes with the same rent or are properly compensated, which Babb said is needed.

“Because of the sense of entitlement, people think I can get what I want,” said Babb. “Well, you have your equal rights.”

We reached out to the new owner of Waynoka homes, Cameron Ellis. He said he plans to keep rental rates between $850-$950, but many in that neighborhood are on fixed incomes.

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