Community fights to save Foote Homes

(WMC-TV) - Residents put their feet to the pavement in an effort to save the city's last public housing project from demolition Tuesday.

Supporters of the housing project marched from the St. Patrick's Catholic Church to Memphis City Hall.

They called for Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, City Council's Planning and Zoning Committee, and other city leaders to support the Vance Avenue Community Transformation Plan.

"We have a plan that would move 50 families at a time to nearby housing for five to six months. We'd go in and make modest improvements that are needed and they'll be able to return. Not one family would be permanently displaced," said University of Memphis professor Ken Reardon, who is leading the group's initiative.

The group wants to renovate and preserve Foote Homes by providing residents with more social services and economic opportunities. They want to add greenways, gardens and emphasize the neighborhood's rich cultural history.

"Don't tear it down.  Fix it up.  Fix it up better than what it is," said Foote Homes Resident, Barbara Brown.

Meanwhile, the city is planning to seek a federal grant to demolish Foote Homes and relocate its more than 400 families to make way for a $1 billion commercial and residential development.

The community is 70-years-old. If forced to move, residents would get vouchers to live in replacement units.

"A lot of people ain't got no where to go. Then if you get Section 8 out of here and moving someplace way out.  We ain't got no ride to go to grocery stores and some of us ain't got jobs to pay light bills or nothing else," said Brown.

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