City of Jackson Director of Planning and Development Jordan Rae Hillman wants to empower neighborhoods.
She would like to establish what she calls a neighborhood academy that would provide homeowner associations with information about how to fight blight, deal with abandoned property and other issues, so it would make it easier for them to work with the city.
“Our neighborhoods are key to our future success,” she said.
Hillman told Jackson city council members about her plans for the department during the council meeting in which she was confirmed in her current position.
Hillman said beefing up code enforcement is necessary so the city can make progress on dealing with blight instead of seeing the cycle continue.
The department is working on a master list to determine which city-owned facilities can be sold, Hillman said. Ward 1 council member Ashby Foote has repeatedly said the city needs to get rid of the buildings it no longer needs so it will have more funds to provide maintenance for the ones in use.
“Hopefully by the end of year, we’ll be able to market properties before someone comes to us to ask for them,” she said.
Jordan informed the council that the department is in the process of getting a new phone system because citizens have complained it is hard to reach.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba called Hillman a breath of fresh air for his administration.
“Jordan is diligent about her work, looks at issues and give us honest answers,” he said. “I don’t need directors who tell me what I want to hear. I need a director who tells me what I need to hear.”
The mayor went on to say Hillman “wants to correct what has gone wrong in the city” and to call her a “rock star.”
Hillman earned a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Mississippi state University and a master’s in city and regional planning from the University of Memphis. She worked as community development director for the city of Brandon for almost four years before she became deputy director of planning for the city of Jackson. She was named director of planning for the city of Jackson in September 2019.