City gives the homeless a helping hand - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City gives the homeless a helping hand

(WMC-TV) - Thousands of people are getting help at the Cook Convention Center Thursday as part of Project Homeless Connect.

The city is hoping to help get some of them back on their feet.

Nearly 2,000 homeless men and women will sleep on the streets of Memphis tonight. If you think that number does not affect you, think again.

The costs of medical treatment, incarceration, police intervention, and emergency shelters for the homeless add up for taxpayers.

But there is an action plan. Project Homeless Connect Memphis teamed up Thursday with several agencies to break down resource barriers.

"Everybody just pieces together a little bit of what they have and we make a really big beautiful thing," said Katie Kitchin, Project Homeless Connect.

Barber, employment, dental, and housing were just a few of the services available for people like Mallory Montague, a war veteran.

"It's a blessing", said Montague.

Bill Piacesi and his wife moved to Memphis a few years ago and immediately saw a need.

"We came face to face with the poverty that is here and that really inspired me to get involved," said Piacesi.

A photographer with more than 25 years experience, as a volunteer Piacesi captured the images of the homeless in an effort to tell their story.

"As part of my non-profit organization 'Focus for the good' we display the photos at  landmarks around the city so that people might see themselves in the faces of the forgotten" said Piacesi.

"I'm not looking for a handout, I'm just looking for a helping hand," said William Butler, who applied for public housing at Project Homeless Connect.

Butler received that helping hand Thursday when he was approved on the spot.

Many who showed up looking for assistance say they have lost contact with their families and just need an ally to get off the streets.

"It's hard to get those services without someone being your champion and that's what we do, we try to create champions out of each homeless person today," said Kitchin.

According to the mayor's office, the following steps were taken to help the homeless in Memphis Thursday:

  • 242 IDs were issued
  • 121 people received social security services (ID printout, new cards, disability claims)
  • 298 Medical screenings were done, 241 guests saw physicians and nurses, 237 got follow up appointments.
  • Three ER transports
  • 30 dental treatments were done
  • 708 Housing screenings were done and 44 guests were approved for housing. Two were transported to permanent housing.
  • 172 food stamp applications were processed.
  • 161 guests received legal counseling
  • 20 cases with action taken by the judge

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