A new homeless shelter for women and expanded programs to combat homelessness in the city were announced by city and county officials Thursday
At a joint meeting of the Memphis City Council and the Shelby County Commission Thursday, officials detailed plans for an $8 million relocation and expansion of the Hospitality Hub, an organization that assists homeless men and women, providing customized care, resources, or referrals in partnership with other organizations.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland who was at Thursday’s meeting said homelessness is a “community issue and what we’re bringing to you today is a community solution.”
The solution addresses the lack of emergency shelter beds for homeless women and of assistance for the homeless population during the day,” Strickland said.
The new Hub, which will move from a spot near Second and Beale to the former City of Memphis Public Service Inspection Station on Washington, will house a resource center, an outdoor day plaza, and a women’s shelter.
The women’s shelter will be built to house at least 32 women, officials said. Kelcey Johnson, executive director of the Hub said the shelter is meant to house women for four to nine days, but in some cases, women might need to stay up to 30 days.
Johnson said there is a significant need for shelters here that serve women: “I never have to say to a man ‘tonight you have to sleep outside, but I frequently have to say to a woman ‘tonight you have to sleep outside because there’s no bed for you.’”
Based on data from the Hub, 37 percent of Memphis’ homeless population are women, but only 6 percent of the beds in shelters are open to women, city council chairman Kemp Conrad noted.
“A barrier-free facility for homeless women in our community does not exist, and it is unacceptable,” Conrad said.
The outdoor day plaza, to be created in partnership with Youngblood Studio, will be a place that the homeless individuals can relax and rest.
The plaza will include shade, seating, art, play areas, a garden, and a stage. The Hub also plans to activate the space with music, food, and art programs. The space will serve as a heating and cooling center as well.
The plaza is expected to be open by summer.
Private funding totaling $5 million has already been secured for the facility. The city and county are both planning to add additional funds to that each year through 2021 of up to $1.2 million.
The goal of this new effort is to eliminate street-level homelessness within 30 months, officials said.
The city council and county commission will vote on a resolution confirming funding allocations at their next respective meetings in May.