MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Assessor is going on the offense against a looming housing crisis: outside investors buying up properties, turning them into rentals, and keeping homeownership out of reach for local families.
It's a problem ABC24 continues to monitor and provide possible solutions, and an issue especially personal for both prospective homebuyers and homeowner associations.
That includes the homeowner association president of LaGrange Commons - Ebonee Hodges - who is pushing back against the rising tide and making it a mission to line up the needed votes to make substantial change.
"It is important; we have a diverse community and it's a very good community," Hodges said, who wants to keep it that way.
For months, she's pushed to update her HOA's charter that would ban future rentals, promote local homeownership, and keep outside investors out.
"Trying to get all of our votes has been the biggest challenge because the rental properties are still coming in," Hodges added.
She listened in Thursday morning as Shelby County Assessor Melvin Burgess reiterated his push to change zoning laws and limit investors.
"There is a direct relationship between a saturation of rentals in a community and the rising crime rates in areas like Cordova, South Memphis and Whitehaven," Burgess said.
Those in Shelby County leadership said it's also critical for HOA's - such as Hodges' - to act and slow the surge of flipped rental properties.
"What we need to do is stop the tide because I think everyone can agree that a community of renters doesn't have the pride of the community a lot of the time," Shelby County Trustee Regina Newman said.
Colleen Jones is one of many prospective homebuyers losing out, mainly because of all-cash home offers by investors.
"I've kind of given up after looking for six months," Jones said. "My realtor said they are frustrated because there are so many people like me who can't be helped because they make offer after offer and they are outbid every time."
As for Hodges, with roughly 70% of her neighborhood owned by families and at least 70% of residents needed to update its charter, every vote matters to make a change.
"Our neighborhood is very tight, so they'll be very excited, ecstatic, it's something we've been working on, it's not about me, it's about the community," Hodges said.
Burgess doesn't want to nail down a timeline on when he hopes changes will be made, but he promised to keep working with county and state leaders to make it happen.