North Memphis Neighborhood Fights Blight

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(Memphis) Imagine waking up every morning and having to look at weeds, overgrown grass and a front door you can barely reach.

It's what Wallace Clayborn sees across the street every time he visits his father's North Memphis home on Hawthorne Street.

"It's almost scary. Almost leads me to think what the future of the city is looking like. No one takes care or their property anymore," says Clayborn.

The house hasn't been lived in for years, and vagrants have torn out the insides.

Neighbors called the city trying to get help, but say since last summer, nothing has been done.

"It's heart breaking, but what can you do? You can only try to maintain your own property. Call the necessary city agencies, but at the end of the day, you have to look at it," says Clayborn.

The city council passed an ordinance in the spring cracking down on blighted properties by getting owners to register their properties. That includes providing a mailing address and name so  they can be contacted by the city if the property is ever abandoned.

Community Enhancement Director Onzie Horne says they received just three calls in the last two years about the home on Hawthorne, the last just 13 days ago.

"The next day a letter was sent to the owner of record, a Swiss Corporation, asking them to bring the property into compliance," says Horne.

When the owners didn't respond, the city could step in.

Less than three hours after News Channel 3 contacted the city about the Hawthorne home, contractors were on site cleaning, cutting, mowing and getting rid of the blight.

The eyesore the neighbors had been told would take up to six weeks to get to was gone.

The city is working in 25 square blocks to clean up blight. They say residents have to be patient as they work through the process of contacting blighted property owners and getting to the different areas of town.

If you have a complaint about a property, you can call 3-1-1.

There is also a "Smart Bug" App on iTunes that allows you to upload pictures of blighted properties directly to the city.