Neighborhood Preservation, Inc. (NPI) works on Neighborhood Policy and Innovation. There are approximately 15,000 abandoned houses and rental units and almost 30,000 neglected vacant lots in Memphis. NPI, established in 2012, collaboratively resolves the root causes of such properties in Memphis. The board recently set a visionary goal to eliminate all known systemic barriers to neighborhood revitalization by 2020.
“There is no pro-blighted property constituency,” said Steve Barlow, president of NPI. “I’m encouraged by the direction and momentum of the community-wide efforts that are underway. There is something for everyone to do. People should get off their daily ‘beaten path’ and look at neighborhoods around Memphis - then find a way to become part of the solution. I bet everyone reading your article knows someone dealing with a blighted property next door.”
NPI’s activities are designed to accomplish the following: 1) Reclaim Blighted Properties. NPI works with local government, philanthropy, nonprofit and businesses leadership to collectively improve state and local policy, systems and processes. 2) Improve Neighborhood Health. NPI promotes comprehensive healthy housing and supports strategies that recognize the important intersection of health with housing, schools and safe neighborhoods. 3) Revitalize Communities. The elimination of blighted properties is not enough - what comes next? NPI and its partners view neglected real estate as a significant opportunity which should be seized with creativity and vision.
The policy arm of NPI includes strives to improve local property maintenance, building and zoning standards and enforcement of those standards, to strengthen state law and local processes associated with delinquent property tax collection, and to establish and empower a robust local land bank. NPI with its partners have recently achieved:
The innovation arm of NPI has resulted in the birth of the Memphis Property Hub, a shared data portal containing up-to-date detailed property data from most relevant local and national sources. To learn more about the collaborative blight-fighting effort that NPI convenes, and about other innovations completed or underway via the Blight Elimination Steering Team, go to memphisfightsblight.com.
“Every abandoned overgrown lot and every neglected house or building has a story. Reclaiming such properties will only be possible if someone figures out that story and holds the appropriate party accountable to resolve the problem. If the owner can’t or won’t improve the property conditions as required by law, it may be necessary to give someone else the authority to bring the property into compliance,” Barlow said. “These are complex and widespread challenges that run deep and there are no easy or quick fixes. If we want to turn around neighborhoods experiencing widespread neglect, we have to do it lot by lot, property by property, house by house and building by building. And all the while, it is crucial that there be active community engagement. It’s very tedious work. But if we improve our laws and become as efficient as possible in the way that we enforce them, we’ll be in a better position to more quickly deal with that challenge on the scale at which action is required.” For more information about Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., visit NPImemphis.org.
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