Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Latham Street - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Latham Street

Blue Crush, the intensive police focus on crimeridden neighborhoods, has led to the boarding up of dozens of crack houses and problem properties.

Law-abiding neighbors cheer when the criminals go to jail, but what's left behind are boarded-up houses that become eyesores.

An emerging leader in one Memphis neighborhood says it's time to clean these properties up.

Attractive homes sparkle on Latham Street, just doors away from boarded-up former crack houses you can barely see through high weeds.

"You name it, it was going on," said neighborhood leader Anthony Prather. "Drugs, prostituting...whatever. So, Blue Crush came in and they closed this house down."

Prather manicures his yard just two doors down from the jungle-like yard on 1050 Latham. "It looks bad. It saddens me to look at this everyday."

From his property, Prather can see 288 Gaston, another address police boarded for rampant prostitution and drug sales. "But what happens after they board it up? I mean, they board these properties up and they leave 'em."

In addition to the shuttered former problem properties, Latham Street has vacant lots with grass and weeds taller than people.

Margaret Anderson says she calls the mayor's office about tall grass daily: "When they come, they ride through, ride around...but nothing never be done."

Some neighbors on Latham fear that if the boarded-up houses are torn down, they'll end up with more vacant lots.

Prather wants to work with the city on a neighborhood-wide clean-up on Latham that he says will help reduce crime: "When things are nice and clean, people act better. You know when you dress up, you feel better. When you clean up, you feel better and you act better."

To the city's credit, code enforcement came by while Action News 5 visited Latham to help decide which abandoned properties should be demolished first. But clearly, the people of Latham Street have a long road ahead in taking back their neighborhood.

Action News 5 contacted the city and left messages, but has yet to hear back about the residents of Latham Street and their constant calls about high weeds.

What are you doing to restore your neighborhood? Call our "Taking Back Our Neighborhoods" hotline at 1 (888) 812-9131 or e-mail us.

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