Target 5 Investigation: Revitalizing Memphis neighborhoods

Wednesday afternoon, Rose Wormley worked through the summer heat, carefully manicuring the hedges in front of her Klondyke neighborhood home.  It's a small oasis in a sea of abandoned eyesores.

"They sit on their porch all day long with their legs crossed watching me," Wormley said. "It bugs me for them to sit and watch me while I work, and their place looks worse than mine."

Action News 5 first visited Klondyke more than a year ago.
Our Target 5 Investigation then showed you block after block full of deserted and dangerous homes, breeding grounds for drug use, vandals, and more serious crimes.
We went back Wednesday to check the progress of the City's four million dollar plan, launched in June 2004, to clean up and tear down abandoned homes in neighborhoods like Klondyke.
We asked Mrs. Wormely what she's seen.

"Very little, very very little," she said.  "Haven't been too much of a change."

If you look carefully, you can see some signs of progress.  Many of the homes we showed you last year were torn down by the city, and now vacant lots exist in their place.  Still, Rose Wormley says that's not enough.

"It appears that as soon as you get one property down, another one pops up," she said.

And the biggest challenge, according to those in charge of neighborhood cleanup efforts, is keeping up.

"If you look at these neighborhoods that have experienced distress," said Memphis Housing Director Robert Libscomb, "That's what you have in all these distressed neighborhoods is a catchup problem."

A problem that the Memphis Housing and Community Development Office is just now getting it's arms around.
Two million dollars spent so far setting up task forces with law enforcement, reorganizing code enforcement, identifying abandoned homes, and tearing down dozens city-wide.
The next round is scheduled to start in Klondyke within the next few weeks.

"It makes me happy, but we really need to put something back in the place of it," said Klondyke resident Irene Pryor. "You can't just have it laying on the ground there and nothing is there."

That's where city officials say those who live in the neighborhoods need to step up, and work like Rose Wormely to keep them up.