Group protests in support of Buehler homes - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Group protests in support of Buehler homes

By Jamel Major - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Local residents, angered by a Shelby County Commissioner's attempts to stop a local developer, protested outside her home Tuesday.

Harold Buehler builds houses for low income families, but he's been accused by Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks of tax evasion and being a slum lord.  Supporters of the Buehler Homes Project and low income renters gathered outside Commissioner Henri Brooks' South Bluffs home Tuesday to protest.

"Now that I see where Henri Brooks lives, I'm just really upset," said Barbara Gavalas, one of the protesters.

But Brooks took the protesters in stride.

"People have a right to protest anything they want to," she said.

Protesters said Brooks is renting in one of the city's most prestigious gated communities while she is trying to block the building of brand new homes in blighted areas in need of housing.

"The message is not about me," Brooks said. "The message is about the plight of poor people and neighborhoods that are blighted.  It's also about an individual who has been given a pass for more than 20 years to prey on poor people."

Plans to transfer 125 vacant parcels of land to housing developer Harold Buehler so that he can build rental houses are currently on hold.  Critics claim Buehler's homes are unsafe and they don't fit in with their neighborhoods.  But Buehler's supporters say while Brooks filed for bankruptcy a year ago, causing her to lose her South Parkway home, she is now renting in style while low income residents are left in the cold.

"She probably fell on hard times too, but look at how she came back," Gavalas said. "She needs to be more understanding about what we're trying to do."

"Do not allow Harold Buehler to buy you, use you, or prey on you any longer," Brooks said.

their neighborhoods, and that he owes back taxes to the county.

"We paid over 726 thousand dollars in county taxes in the last 12 months," Buehler said. "They keep saying we owe taxes, but we've paid the taxes."

However, supporters say Buehler is only trying to help build up inner-city neighborhoods.

"The inner city looks like a war zone," community activist Darrell Wright said. "If Mr. Buehler wants to build this community up, then let him do it."

Shelby County Commissioners will hold a special hearing on the Buehler Homes Project this Wednesday.  A final vote could take place next Monday.

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