Memphis receives scholarship assistance to fight blight

National nonprofit the Center for Community Progress, has selected Memphis along with Albany, New York and Huntington, West Virginia as 2017 scholarship recipients for their Technical Assistance Scholarship Program.

Through TASP, Community Progress will help the cities address property vacancy, abandonment and deterioration as well as provide technical assistance assessing local and state legal systems pertaining to receivership and property tax enforcement.

Assistance in Memphis will identify reforms that will support the transfer of clear, marketable title to the Blight Authority of Memphis which works to find uses for vacant properties.

“Memphis will benefit greatly from Center for Community Progress’ expertise in developing innovative solutions to bring abandoned and blighted property back to life,” said Sheila Jordan Cunningham, executive director of BAM.

“The result of this process should be returning blighted properties to the tax rolls and improving Memphis neighborhoods.”

Through TASP, Memphis and other recipient communities will receive up to 400 hours of assistance from a team of national experts over eight months between April and November 2017. Assistance may include a diagnosis of the most pressing problems, evaluation of current systems and strategies and recommendations on solutions that involve key government decision makers, residents and other stakeholders.

All recipients were chosen through a competitive process which included a written application round followed by an in-person site assessment for five finalists. Proposed projects are reviewed on a range of criteria including the potential for innovation from which other cities can learn, demonstrated leadership to implement reform, overall scale of vacancy challenges and need for outside assistance. Grant funding from JPMorgan Chase provides the program’s support.

“Our administration is focused on reducing blight -- both to aid our core city’s renaissance and to simply give every Memphian a neighborhood they can be proud of,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

“We’re grateful for this assistance from the Center for Community Progress which we think will only further amplify what we’re doing in Memphis.”

Read more articles by J. Dylan Sandifer.

J. Dylan Sandifer is a freelance writer living in Memphis since 2008. They have also contributed writing and research for MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, VICE News, and Choose901. 
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