MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis city councilmember has proposed increasing funding and expanding eligibility for sidewalk assistance money after a WREG Problem Solvers investigation identified issues with the program.
Marilyn Parker did not qualify for the program, though she said it took her years to save up to get new sidewalks outside her South Memphis home.
“I think it was like $4,000 or 5,000,” she said.
The Problem Solvers investigation found her zip code, 38106, had the most sidewalk citations in the last three years while also having a poverty rate of more than 40 percent.
When asked about the citation policy that could turn into a lien against a home, city officials pointed to their assistance program.
But the program mostly applied to those with a household income of $25,000 or less.
“It got me to refocus on something I had looked at and want now to tackle,” Councilmember Chase Carlisle said of the story.
Carlisle now wants to make changes to expand sidewalk repair assistance. He proposed the city provide an additional $500,000 and expand eligibility to people who make up to 60 percent of the area’s median income.
“From a pedestrian safety standpoint, curb appeal, neighborhood stabilization/revitalization, those are all things that are important as a city,” Carlisle said.
He said there are still details to iron out like who would do the work, how much each household could get and what neighborhoods will be eligible.
He does know it would be a step toward a bigger goal.
“We don’t talk about how important it is that we stabilize these neighborhoods so our city government has a thriving tax base and budget. That’s very important and is how we fund and pay for basic services,” Carlisle said.
The resolution passed in council committees Tuesday and will go before the full council next week. After that, the mayor’s administration would have to adopt the recommendation in the annual budget.
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