Every Memphian deserves to reside in a neighborhood that is clean and attractive, with access to thriving commercial districts and public amenities such as parks and libraries. But while neighborhood revitalization has been expanding outside of the center city, too many neighborhoods still suffer from blighted properties, economic disinvestment, and displacement, due to the dramatic increase in out-of-town property owners and other factors. Those trends have also made rental housing increasingly unaffordable and homeownership unattainable for many families.
JW Gibson grew up in public housing and understands the importance of stable and affordable housing to a family. To help others secure that, in 1996, he formed the Southeast Regional Development Corp, with a mission to develop affordable housing for seniors and families. JW has also spearheaded comprehensive neighborhood redevelopment. Most recently, he led the creation of a special taxing district (TIF) for the South Memphis neighborhood, to generate badly needed resources for the revitalization of that community through housing development and repair and commercial projects such as the planned Metro Shopping Center redevelopment.
JW believes in a holistic approach to community development that combines physical development with programs that support families economically and improve neighborhood quality of life. Successful community development also requires a strong and effective partnership between City government and residents that are empowered and encouraged to take an active role in improving their lives and neighborhoods. Finally, JW understands that many traditional sources of funding available for community development (e.g. the federal government) are declining and greatly insufficient to meet community needs. In response, he will pursue new and innovative sources, such as peer-to-peer lending and other types of social underwriting, and also plans to redeploy existing revenue streams, such as the proceeds of expiring payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements.
“Memphis deserves a leader who will bring about meaningful job opportunities and resources with the talent that our city can offer.”
- JW Gibson
Here is a partial list of JW Gibson’s proposed community development strategies:
Expand and realign the Division of Housing and Community Development, creating a single entity that provides resources for community development and works directly with residents to solve the problems facing their neighborhood. Create closer alignment with joint Memphis-Shelby County entities such as Division of Planning and Development and Community Redevelopment Agency.
Support the continued development of neighborhood-level plans through implementation of Memphis 3.0 and targeted investments in plan recommendations.
Engage residents more directly in neighborhood revitalization projects to ensure city investments support their needs and expectations. JW believes in providing the resources to empower neighbors to solve their own problems in a bottom-up fashion, in the spirit of “for the people, by the people.”
Pursue the creation of a shared equity trust model that provides wealth building opportunities for families as well as support for community economic development.
Aggressively address blighted properties by aligning and streamlining existing programs and authorities, including code enforcement, city and county land banks, receivership, and eminent domain - and give residents a larger role in the process.
Hold out-of-town property owners accountable through the creation of a rental registry or other regulatory mechanisms. Affordable housing developers who have received government subsidies or support warrant additional scrutiny and enforcement.
Support small neighborhood retail with dedicated spaces in commercial revitalization projects, and connect them to other programs and resources.