Memphis Announces Plan to End Homelessness — Again


Memphis officials have announced yet another plan to use taxpayer money to end homelessness in the city.

This, despite countless past promises to already do so.

Memphis leaders recently announced they would pair up with the Shelby County government to combat street-level homelessness, using nearly $8 million of public and private money. That money will go to what was once a city-owned vehicle inspection station to cater to the homeless and, according to a press release, “effectively end” homelessness within 30 months.

In an emailed statement to The Tennessee Star, Cara Greenstein, serving as a spokeswoman for city officials, said private sources must provide $5 million before the Memphis and Shelby County governments chip in.

“The City of Memphis already provides $375,000 ($200,000 from City Council grants and $150,000 through Work Local), and would provide an additional $275,000 in FY 2019 budget, $275,000 in the FY 2020 Budget — $250,000 of which would be through the City Council’s First Annual Community Impact Fund, $50,000 from the DMC, an additional $200,000 in FY 2021 for a total of $550,000. The DMC would also contribute $50,000 in FY 2019 and FY 2020,” Greenstein said.

“Shelby County would allocate and appropriate $250,000 in FY 2019 budget, $375,000 in FY 2020 budget and $650,000 in FY 2021 budget. It is the intent that both governments would provide a total of $1.2 million, split per the 2021 Budget going forward.”

This is not Memphis’s first quest to end homelessness.

As reported, in 2014, then HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced a $1.6 billion initiative to fight the problem. Exactly $18.1 million of that went to Tennessee. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, announced that 13 nonprofits in his hometown would get $4.3 million of that.

“This significant amount of funding will help our community work to reduce — and hopefully eliminate — homelessness in Memphis,” Cohen said at the time.

In 2015, homelessness in Tennessee not yet cured, Cohen bragged about getting even more federal taxpayer money to eradicate homelessness, this time $6.9 million through what was called a Continuum of Care program.

The program gave taxpayer money to nonprofits that serve the homeless.

One of the five nonprofit recipients was the Beers Van Gogh Center of Excellence in Memphis.

Homeless people who lived protested the center because one of its employees allegedly engaged in acts of violence and widespread sexual harassment against residents, according to The Memphis Flyer.

According to The Flyer, center officials did nothing about the man until homeless residents protested.

This, the paper went on, was part of a larger problem with homeless service networks called “Play To Stay,” implying homeless residents must endure such treatment in exchange for assistance.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]






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One Thought to “Memphis Announces Plan to End Homelessness — Again”

  1. Greg

    For the past several weeks, a woman has camped on the sidewalk on West End near the former Tin Angel. She has a chair and and about 8 feet or so of sidewalk with her possessions, covered with plastic to protect them of course. Oh and she is smoking when you pass oftentimes. Apparently the police ignore her and those who like in the condos there must endure. They have likely reported this and the report is no doubt lost in the administration here. I wait to pass and see her camp grow to more destitute people like her. My heart breaks.