Community rallies to save housing project from demolition - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Community rallies to save housing project from demolition

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

For many of Mayor A C Wharton's supporters, the night of his re-election last year was about his promise for prosperity for all citizens of the community. Some called it a defining moment of change. Wharton promised a city free of hunger and despair.

For those who gathered at St. Patrick's church on Linden, along with the more than 400 families still living in Foote Homes, it's a message falling on deaf ears.

MORE: Housing project facing demolition

"Why would you tear down affordable housing right now? The economy is so bad, the economy is so bad that you basically creating the homeless," says resident James Smith.

Many of the organizers are a part of the Vance Avenue Collaborative to transform, renovate, and improve Foote Homes instead of demolishing the property.

Despite the promise from the city that everything was going to be alright, most say they know or know of other people, many of whom are still displaced, who used to live in public housing.

Felton Shy who works in the neighborhood says, "If you look at uptown property, used to be the old Hurt Village that hasn't happened there, if you look at Dixie Homes on Poplar, the one they just renovated, it's less than 30% being allowed to move back in."

Foote Home is the last public housing development in Memphis to be torn down and redeveloped. For those who live and work in the neighborhood, they say affording mixed income homes will always be out of their reach.

"A lot of people are on fixed income, a lot of people are making minimum wage so if you not making the income or you don't have the salary, how can you afford a $700 home?" asks Shy.

Many say Foote Homes will go the way of the other housing developments. The current tenants will be forced from the only home many have known out into the unknown.

Organizer Karen Spencer McGee says to renew and rebuild is good for a city, with one exception, "Don't put poor, uneducated people out and they can't move back once you build it back up."

The group plans to send a petition and cards to Mayor Wharton and his administration asking them to never forget their own words, just a year ago.

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