Within Jackson, Tennessee is the third largest neighborhood in Tennessee, the Lambuth Area Neighborhood Association. The neighborhood consists of approximately 1,500 homes situated around the Lambuth University campus in midtown Jackson.
Initiated out of a desperate need to revitalize their neighborhood, a group of individuals began to meet to discuss concerns and how they could facilitate changes that would better their neighborhood and curb its continued decline. Soon thereafter, the group organized, became proactive, and continues to be an instrument for urban renewal and the elimination of urban blight for the Lambuth University area.
Since its beginning, the Lambuth Area Neighborhood Association (LANA) has been recognized for its positive influence in bringing about change to improve their neighborhood. Through these efforts, LANA has served to empower sections of their neighborhood with the voice for change that they may not normally have had prior to their existence.
An example of their positive efforts has been a successful campaign to down zone the neighborhood to prevent the further encroachment of absentee landlords seeking to turn historic homes into low-priced rental apartment units. The absentee landlords failed to make necessary maintenance improvements to the older homes and soon their appearance began to deteriorate. The area also began to decline from a rising crime problem. An increase in car thefts, attempted rapes, burglaries, and purse snatching cause the remaining middle class families to leave the area, which caused even further decline.
Although met with skepticism by city officials initially, the persistence of LANA to facilitate a zoning change for the neighborhood led to major long lasting impacts on the area in regard to the preservation and revitalization of the area. One such increase occurred in a newly approved local historic district within the neighborhood. The sale price for these homes has risen by more than thirty percent.
Another victory for the neighborhood group came when they were instrumental in keeping pressure on the local school board to locate the city’s newest elementary school in the LANA area, and when they were instrumental in organizing police neighborhood patrols for the area. LANA also organizes special events to raise citywide awareness of the neighborhood’s uniqueness. Such events include a Christmas and spring tour of historic homes in the neighborhood.
While many problems have been addressed, LANA continues to be a proactive voice for the elimination of absentee landlords, substandard housing and awareness of racial diversity, infrastructure improvements, and historic preservations.