Neighborhood Concerns Rally Blight Campaign
“We’ve been having bad snakes and all kinds of different things going on," says Deborah Rogers. She’s a Bronson Street resident who is a victim of blighted properties in her area.
Rogers says it bothers her to see neglected homes next to people who are taking care of theirs. She points to scattered debris along one side of an abandoned house. People have empty their trash on these lots, attracting unwanted guests to the neighborhood
“It be sitting in here and all kind of different animals and stuff come by so I always call the city so they can come clean it up," she says.
Rogers has been living in her community her entire life and now fears that blighted homes are not only ruining the beauty of the neighborhood, but that they could potentially decrease the value of her home. “That’s why I’m always calling and getting these people out here to help to keep the area clean…I’m always walking down the street or looking for someone to keep it clean."
It's also why Mayor Mayo has been hitting the streets. Over past couple weeks, he walked through neighborhoods in his Fight the Blight Campaign, trying to bring awareness to run down homes in hopes of making them more clean and safe for residents.
“They’re the ones that are suffering because their having to deal with these absentee landlords that are not being responsible and we’re trying to make sure they are accountable," says Mayo.
He feels the campaign was a great way for residents to express their thoughts and concerns about the blight issue. He says his tours allowed him to reach out to hundreds of people.
But Monroe City Councilman Ray Armstrong says he doesn’t agree with Mayo’s approach. “Nothing can be demolished until the Mayor does his job," says Armstrong. He notes that out of 24 council meetings a year, and out of thirteen of those in the past year, no condemned houses were presented to the council.Instead of taking a message to neighborhoods, Armstrong says Mayo "needs to be talking to his council, we’re the ones who can help him and want to help him."
Mayo, however, still says that before his ordinance was denied by the council a month ago, the decision to do something about these blighted properties was mutual. They’re the ones that have indicated to us, and we agreed, that we need to address these dilapidated structures. That’s why we’ve come out into the streets.”
Regardless of what is or isn’t being done, Rogers simply wants what she and others in the community deserve. “I just wish they would get it clean," she says, "so we can have a safer place and a cleaner place to live. We're not going have nobody else come in, if we don’t keep it clean."