Fighting Blight - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Fighting Blight

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Residents in some Jackson neighborhoods struggle to maintain their property values, as dilapidated houses continue to dot the landscape of their streets.

Tucked away off McDowell road in south Jackson, is Greenview Drive, where homeowners are fighting a losing battle when it comes to property values. Over half of the homes on the street are completely abandoned, some wide open to the elements and whoever wants to go in.

"Don't nobody stay in the houses," said resident Annie Huggins. "It's a shame for them just to be sitting up there. So they really do need to be torn down."

In a last ditch effort to keep scrap metal thieves and other criminals from hitting the few good houses that are left, landowners are putting up signs, discouraging trespassing and vandalism. Huggins rental home is surrounded on all sides, by ruins.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said one of his first priorities would be cleaning up the city when he was elected.

Mayor Lumumba says,

"If you've noticed, we've tried to step up the pace of getting rid of dilapidated houses," said Mayor Lumumba. "Farish street, 32 different properties just got torn down."

The razing of the homes off Farish Street the mayor talks about is something some residents are hoping for in their neighborhoods, where some believe the problem is a lack of enforcement of the city code, letting homeowners to let their properties fall beyond repair.

The city of Ridgeland uses stringent enforcement of a strict city code. If residents violate it, they'll face the city in court within 30 days in most cases. But more than often, the homeowners make the repairs, rather than face the fines. 

"We don't want to be the type of city that we can't get along with folks so we're willing to work with people to help them get things cleaned up and straightened out the way they should be," said Mayor Gene McGee.

Back on Greenview Drive, some of the houses have remained this way for weeks, months, even years, leaving some of the street to wonder if the owners of the neglected properties are really facing any penalties.

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