Make Jackson A Great Place To Live!
Blight is a cancer. Join the effort to cure it, one neighborhood at a time.
In the City of Jackson, Mississippi, abandoned lots and dilapidated houses are creating magnets for criminal and drug activity, leading to unsafe neighborhoods for kids and families, and lowering surrounding property values which leads to disinvestment, urban flight and loss of the tax base. And while blight doesn't happen overnight, it can create a downward momentum that soon spirals out of control.
Start a conversation about the problems our community faces, and Dr. Jim Johnston will boil it down to one word:blight. "Blight is a cancer," he says. "It spreads and eventually it will kill a community. It starts on a street, perhaps. Then spreads to a neighborhood. Eventually blight will kill our city."
"Blight eradication is the essential first step," he says. "Real revitalization requires the active participation of the residents for it to work." To that end, a group of like-minded people created a field of interest fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson. Contributions to this fund are tax-deductible as the Community Foundation is a 501c3. This "Action for Jackson" fund is securing financial resources to help create a Community Land Trust (CLT) model for neighbor groups to use in obtaining and stabilizing these properties. It's taken a village of sorts, to save a city. "We need partnerships with the city, the county, the state, neighborhood groups and the private sector to make this work," Jim says.
A major opportunity to put this model to the test is in the Rosemont neighborhood in West Jackson. Once a blighted area with rampant crime, it is now a testament to the power of neighbors committed to turning things around. "There is so much potential here," Jim says. "The neighborhood has already done the hard part – addressed crime, cleaned streets and lots. They are excited about using the Community Land Trust model to truly revitalize the area."
From the neighborhood perspective, it is an ideal solution, as it creates a way for residents to have a stake in a revitalization effort, which benefits the neighborhood. A CLT allows the group to maintain long-term control of these properties, which often cycle off and on the state tax rolls multiple times per generation.
Action for Jackson has engaged many partners, public, private and philanthropic, including:
- Rosemont Church and Rosemont Human Services
- Phil Eide- served on New Orleans CLT board for 10 years
- Construction Ministries, a nonprofit training young people into the construction trades
- Revitalize Mississippi, Inc.
- Mississippi Secretary of State's Office
- Hinds Community College's Mi Best program, which certifies people in rehabbing properties
- Cindy Ayers of Foot Print Farms, an urban farm creating economic opportunity in West Jackson through farming and agriculture
- Keep Jackson Beautiful
- Community advisory board
With an initial goal of raising $150,000, Action for Jackson hopes to create a blueprint in the Rosemont neighborhood, helping to acquire the properties from the State of Mississippi, clear titles to the properties and help with the lot clearing, demolitions and rehabilitation. Once the first five properties are complete, the neighborhood can sell the houses, and the proceeds will finance the next five properties. "Rosemont will create a good example for other neighborhoods to follow," Jim says. "Success will build more success, and we can revitalize the entire city."
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