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South & East Memphis neighbors band together to fight blight

Author: Brad Broders Published: 4:45 PM CDT April 27, 2022 Updated: 7:06 PM CDT April 27, 2022

The Southeast Memphis Economic Corridor is working with city and county to clean up abandoned properties, assist small businesses, and add affordable housing.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For years, different southeast Memphis neighborhoods faced the same challenges: blight, disinvestment, and other struggles. So now, residents there are doing something about it and joining forces to tackle the blight fight together in a newly formed alliance: the Southeast Memphis Economic Corridor - or SEMEC.

"The neighborhood has a lot of resources we have a lot of good people here who want to stay in the neighborhood," Magnolia Castalia Community Association President Carolyn Goodwin said.

For Goodwin, the passion is personal in Castalia Heights, the southeast Memphis neighborhood she's called home her entire life. However, she admits there's also plenty of challenges.

"There are a lot of people who live in this neighborhood that are scared to come out at night because of the shooting and the trash and people just not being nice," Goodwin added.

Goodwin is among the many people fed up with a major common challenge: the blight fight. Her community association and four other associations have aligned to beautify their neighborhoods in SEMEC.

"When I know I have five communities behind me, five communities working with me, I feel a little lifted up," Goodwin said.

The group highlighted the several eyesores Wednesday afternoon to ABC24.

"The value of the community is the condition of the community. When a condition is not good, than the value of the community goes down," Pastor Donald Letcher Jr. of Moody

Chapel C.M.E. Church said.

"It's about time that we clean up around here. Clean up, fix up, paint up," Roy Bounds added. SEMEC leadership said by linking more neighborhood groups together, that strength in numbers is getting the process moved faster in getting more dilapidated properties torn down and more communities cleaned up.

"That's the biggest difference. When you know the right people, they coming, because apparently we were calling the wrong people because we hadn't been getting good results," Goodwin said.

Community advocates believe as more blighted properties are cleared out and cleaned up across southeast Memphis, it will make the area more friendly to new investments. "By addressing blight, right, we've already removed a lot of what stops people who want to be part of the community. We made the community look better, feel better, safe," Rhonnie Brewer with ProGeny Place said.

The group also secured 35 grants for small businesses to get facelifts and are working with partners to secure more affordable housing.

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