BAM: In Partnership, In Action
This Action Plan for the Blight Authority of Memphis (“BAM”) was designed to provide actionable, step-by-step recommendations for BAM’s executive leadership and local government partners to move toward transformational and equitable community development utilizing BAM’s unique legal powers over a period of three years.
In the face of both profound levels of vacancy and disinvestment rooted in systemic racism and endemic poverty, and also significant community interest in equitable responses to blight, Memphis created a land bank authority, BAM. In addition, Memphis leaders championed necessary state level legal authority to ensure BAM was endowed with special legal powers to address vacant, tax delinquent, and abandoned parcels that proliferate throughout some of Memphis’ most historic and treasured neighborhoods. However, throughout its history BAM was never resourced appropriately to carry out its critical work in a meaningful fashion—leading its sole employee and visionary executive director to seek support from Community Progress in both identifying BAM’s needs over a three-year plan, and making the case for needed resources in a publicly facing Action Plan
Community Progress provided a step-by-step action plan utilizing a framework of high level toward deep and transformative actions for BAM to consider in the months and years to come. The Action Plan was designed to capture both a visionary and reparative goal of ultimate community control and ownership of land, and also to provide reasonable and actionable incremental programs and activities to achieve equitable transformation—and reasonable costs of each such program along the way. Action items included simple ground level activities like updating and building out BAM’s website and social media presence, and continued implementation of acquiring properties through transfer from Memphis local government, to mid-level activities including hosting community meetings in priority neighborhoods, and acquiring large number of properties from county-inventories that have been in limbo for years, to deep and systematic programming such as linking all acquisition and disposition activities to larger community planning efforts, and designing and implementing a community benefit tax foreclosure program whereby CDCs and other community groups enjoy rights of first refusal and other privileges on certain BAM inventory in accordance with equitable and reparative development plans.
BAM’s action plan was utilized by executive leadership to make the case to the City of Memphis for meaningful, six-figure general operating support allowing BAM to scale up its operations and programmatic capacity beyond a single staff member for the first time in its existence—the City approved this initial request and delivered the initial tranche of funds to BAM early 2022. Utilizing the Community Progress Action Plan, the newly expanded staff and leadership of BAM sought $600,000 for two years of general operating revenue from the City of Memphis in November 2022. In addition, several of the recommended programmatic initiatives, including a depository program, have been implemented successfully by BAM now that the organization has appropriate operating resources. See Blight Authority of Memphis turning vacant lots into affordable new homes (wreg.com)
Topic(s): Local Analysis, Parcel Data & Neighborhood Markets, Racial Equity, State/National Analysis
Published: August, 2023
Geography: Memphis, TN
Services: Strategic and action planning
Client: Blight Authority of Memphis
Partners: Innovate Memphis | Delivering Civic Solutions
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Jes Smith, Director, Blight Authority Memphis
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