Soulsville neighborhood fights to have blight removed

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A once-thriving neighborhood in South Memphis is now dealing with blight issues.

One street in particular has more than a dozen blighted homes and residents are desperate for help.

“I’m very upset,” Jo Dyson said.

Dyson is one of the many people living along Roanoke Avenue in the historic Soulsville district.

Families have lived on the street since the ’50s and ’60s, and the area is still bursting with civic pride.

“This was one of the nicest middle class African-American neighborhoods in the city,” Dr. Mike Williams said.

“They younger people moved other places,” Dyson said. “But nobody checked back on what they left, so the city started boarding up houses.”

WREG drove down Roanoke Avenue and counted 13 homes that were boarded up and had overgrown grass and trees that looked like they could fall over.

Residents said they’ve reached out to election officials and called the 311 service line but have received little to no results.

“It’s just a matter of priority,” Dr. Williams said. “From a council person standpoint, all the way to coders to other city government. It’s just not a concern.”

“We shouldn’t have to spend hours and hours and hours trying to call to just live in a safe, nice-looking community,” Dyson said.

WREG reached out to the City of Memphis, but their offices were closed for the Memorial Day holiday.

Three “no progress” letters were issued, one was referred to ground services and another is awaiting a court hearing, the city said Wednesday.

Residents on Roanoke Avenue hope the city takes action before it is too late.

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