Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Neighborhood blight - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ursula Madden

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Neighborhood blight

A law aimed at reducing blight in Tennessee was put to the test in state court and it is helping one woman take back her neighborhood, one house at a time.

Fed up with the blighted homes bordering her neighborhood, Jan Rowe took action after talking with two appraisers who assessed they value of her home.

"They said that my home was worth about 50-thousand dollars less that what I originally even paid for it.  And they sited  this blight being a major part," Jan Rowe said.

Rowe took the owners of several rentals to court.

She sued them under a little known law passed by The Tennessee legislature in 2004 , called the Neighborhood Preservation Act.

 The law says rentals and residents have to be kept at community standards.  And before you can take a property owner to court, they have to be cited three times in the same year for building violations or property violations.

Attorney Steve Barolow represents Jan Rowe. 

"He recognized under the Neighborhood Preservation Act he had some responsibilities and he decided rather than go to trial on the matter to settle with Miss Rowe," Barolow said.

The settlement is a relief to home owner, Johnathan Martin.
"I think if it was individuals who owned the homes it would make a difference.  I don't understand why someone would want to own so many pieces of property that are boarded up," Martin said.

Eid Faraj said every time he fixes up the units, someone breaks in and causes major damage.

Faraj showed the broken windows and the metal pipe used to punch through the walls. In one unit, the heating and cooling unit had been stripped of its copper.
"There's nothing to steel here. It's just vandalism," Faraj said.

Faraj believes the vandals are drug users, teens from nearby East High School, and by the markings on this porch, wannabe gang members.
"We want extra police patrol in this street, to stop people who not live on this street to come here," Faraj said.

Faraj said the police have not responded to calls for help.

Meanwhile, he said he will comply with the court ordered settlement to improve the rentals.

But Jan Rowe said the court battles aren't over.
"I wanted to try the first one out to see where we went with that before I proceeded.  Because I plan on taking the entire street," Rowe said.

Rowe said five-thousand dollars she received in the settlement will be used for beautification projects on Eastview.

And Steve Barlow is looking for other attorneys who would be willing to do a little pro bono work taking on property owners under the Neighborhood Preservation Act .

If your interested you can send him an e-mail.

Click here to e-mail Ursula Madden.

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