New program aims to get rid of blight across the state

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Raven Starks owns almost this whole street after inheriting four out of the five homes from deceased relatives.

But the only one that's actually occupied is the one she lives in.

"When we inherited the homes, the property taxes were behind. And another thing too, we were doing our own maintenance work."

She admitted to WREG she's in over her head now.

Most of the homes along the street were boarded up; an issue neighborhoods all across the city face.

But the Blight Elimination Project through the Tennessee Housing Development Agency could help local non-profits breathe new life into old properties.

"They can get a zero percent loan from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency up to $25,000 to acquire a vacant, foreclosed house that's blighted," said Amy Schaftlein with United Housing.

That loan would be forgivable after three years as long as the lot is kept up and maintained as a green space, affordable housing or other approved use.

United Housing told WREG it's a step in the right direction.

"This program will allow a non-profit to get ten homes at a time. So, it's a big problem. It's a complex problem. But this is something that can help."

It's change Starks said can't come soon enough, especially with the crime that often comes along with abandoned vacant homes.

"My daughter was almost a victim of being snatched by one of the men who was living in the area by the abandoned apartments by Booker T. Washington, so, believe me, we have felt the worst."


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