Business Taking Up Fight Against City Blight
(Memphis) “We pray God, that you will once again give us the strength to fight the blight in this intense heat,” said DeAndre Brown as he lead a group of about 25 in prayer before getting to work.
It’s not your traditional clean-up crew.
These workers on the Blight Patrol are cleaning up properties that others neglected.
They got a call about a weed infested sidewalk near Westside Middle.
“If that isn’t taken care of you will see the kids walking in the street. That’s a pretty bad blind spot. We don’t want anybody getting hurt,” said Brown, who is founder of the LifeLine to Success program that is cleaning up the area.
In no time, the sidewalk was clear.
The Blight Patrol is just getting started.
They have 25 square block areas they are contracted with the city of Memphis to clean.
“They had a situation where the blight was overtaking the city. They needed some emergency contractors so the city contacted us,” says Brown.
It takes about a week to clean each 25 square block area.
“It’s a lot of overgrowth. We run into grass that is 7 feet tall, trees and what you don;t see is the problem, brick, stone, furniture, stuff people just throw into those properties,” says Brown.
Neighbors are noticing.
” They cut that grass right there, put them bags and tires on the street. Cut that house yard over there,” says Eugene White who lives in the Uptown area.
“I thank God for them,” says Marvin Robinson who also lives in Uptown.
DeAndre Brown started LifeLine as a way to help ex-offenders get work and to help the community get clean, “They’ve been overgrown for years because nobody had taken the initial response of cutting it. But since it’s been cut, they are gonna keep it maintained.”
It may be rubbing off.
“What can I do to keep my area clean? Everybody should have that same mentality. Then we probably wouldn’t have any problem keeping our area clean or helping those they send out to help us,” says Robinson.
Lifeline gets paid $50 an hour for clean up, and the company pays the ex-offenders a stipend.
Since last September, they say they have cleaned 2800 properties in 6 different neighborhoods designated by the city.