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City And County Share Blight Responsibilty In Memphis

(Memphis) You know blight is a problem in the Mid-South. Here is another problem with blight - some city and county leaders don’t know who is responsible for cleaning it up.

At an old metal in South Memphis, the doors are gone. “No Dumping” signs are posted out front. Neighbors complain that doesn’t stop anyone from dumping on the property at 2100 Hernando.

“Trash bags, leaves, mattresses, everything,” said Ida Jones.

Jones spent the past 40 years in Memphis and wants to make sure something’s done to fix the problem.

On the other side of town, Shonn Hatchett is doing the same thing.

“I just don't know what's going on,” said Hatchett.

The father of four blames blight for the crime in the Oakhaven area.

“We don't know who to call,” said Hatchett.

Turns out, some elected officials don't know either.

“I found out two months ago, Shelby County is responsible for commercial blight, Memphis is responsible for residential blight,” said Memphis City Councilwoman Wanda Halbert in a meeting this past March.

The longtime councilwoman claimed she didn’t know the city's supposed to handle abandoned homes, while the county's in charge of neglected businesses.

“It shouldn't have taken me that long to hear that. Citizens of Memphis need to know. Nobody is telling them that,” said Halbert.

Shelby County Mayor Spokesperson Steve Shular told WREG the residential/business split started years ago.

“It's always one of those frustrating problems, but here's our message to neighborhood leaders and others: if you have a problem, you can always call us,” said Shular.

Phone calls and monthly neighborhood meetings with city and county workers prompted the county to clean up the dead end at Hernando and Elliston.

“I'm so glad. I get tired of coming down that street and trash is there,” said Jones.

To report commercial blight in your neighborhood, call Shelby County at 222-2300. To report residential blight, call the City of Memphis at 311.

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