November 25, 2015

Fighting Blight with “Mow-to-Own” Programs

Memphis has joined a few other municipalities across the country by offering property owners credit toward the purchase of land in exchange for maintaining vacant lots adjacent to their own.  Under the “mow-to-own” program, the city will credit neighbors $25 each time they cut the grass on a city- or county-owned vacant property, for a total of up to $1,350 over the course of three years.  The earned credits can be used to help the participating neighbor buy the property.  The city’s code enforcement official monitors the program, and participants must periodically provide photographic evidence of their work.

Rockford, Illinois has a similar initiative, allowing neighbors to earn credit toward the purchase of a vacant parcel if they maintain (e.g., rake leaves, shovel sidewalks, pick up trash) or improve it (e.g., landscaping, fencing, tree removal, grass restoration).