• FOX13 questions City of Memphis runoff candidates about blight

    By: Greg Coy

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A homeowner reached out to FOX13 for help. Vernastein Williamson has lived in her home in District 7 for 33 years.

    She told FOX13 her next-door neighbor’s back yard is so overgrown that rats are coming into her house.     

    ORIGINAL STORY: Homeowner wants neighbors to take responsibility for tall grass, litter on properties

    Blight is a quality of life issue for many people in Memphis. The Strickland administration plans to take the homeowner to court but can't do much because it is private property.

    FOX13's Greg Coy has been talking to the city and both candidates in the District 7 runoffs about the problem. 

    Williamson told FOX13 the property is a haven for rodents.


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    "The rats coming from this property over into my property, and they are having their breakfast, lunch and dinner in my pantry," she said.

    Williamson said she has reported her neighbor to the city’s 311 Hotline for more than a year, but the problem still remains.

    FOX13 reached out to the city. In an email, a spokesperson said the complaints were closed because the property owners have a court date set for Wednesday.

    Williams remains frustrated. "He has been to court numerous times already and numerous of times he didn't show up," she said.

    FOX13 contacted the two candidates in the runoff election for District 7 where the home is located to find out their long-term ideas to deal with blight and abandoned properties.

    Candidate Michalyn Easter-Thomas said she proposes, "enforcement hearings and court action toward non-local property owners."

    Incumbent Berlin Boyd said he is, "working on legislation that will drastically fine property owners who are not in compliance with our city code."

    Holding property owners accountable is an important issue for Williamson.

    "Whoever comes up with the best solution and really works on the solution - they will get my vote," she said.

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