Reducing neighborhood blight and putting properties back on the tax rolls is the goal of a project underway in Mississippi's Capitol City.
A demolition crew is taking down an old two-bedroom house in a Jackson neighborhood suffering from blight. Representative Kathy Sykes of HInds County, grew up in this community.
"They didn't have the funds to upgrade their homes as they got older and deteriorated," said Sykes.
Sykes along with legislators are here with Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, to announce a partnership with the non-profit group Revitalize Mississippi. Hosemann started an online auction for 611 tax-forfeited Jackson properties worth an estimated $6.4 million. The non-profit demolishes homes and cleans lots at no cost to the state or city. It also helps find buyers and investors. Neighbors are turning the land where the house was just torn down into a community garden. Delbert Hosemann.
"It's not about tearing down a house. This is about planting a seed. This is a seed in this community that will allow these kids to be able to go outside without problems in some abandoned home where there's mischief going on," said Hosemann.
Hosemann says they have 118 bids in Jackson so far. Some houses are rehabbed and turned into rental properties. Jackson Mayor Chockwe Antar Lumumba.
"It's a win win for everyone and so it's identifying what are common interest are and working together so that we can see the results we all desire," said Lumumba.
Folks here say they're concerned about the spread of blight in the Capitol City. House Speaker Phillip Gunn agrees.
"Like an apple if the core rots, everything around it is going to rot too. So, Every state should be proud of its capitol city. It is the crown jewel of the state," said Gunn.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann holds auctions statewide. He says so far they've raised $2.7 million. He hopes to exceed $3 million.