Center seeks to provide housing for homeless LGBT youth - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Center seeks to provide housing for homeless LGBT youth

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
Example of a shipping container turned into a housing unit. (Source: WAVE) Example of a shipping container turned into a housing unit. (Source: WAVE)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

A large number of LGBT youth are homeless and living on the streets of Memphis. Now, one local community center is stepping up to help.

The Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center is hoping to start a unique project that will provide these youth with housing. 

"Up to 40 percent of young people on the street are LGBT. Those are our kids, so we knew we needed to find a place for them to go," Will Batts of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center said.

A new project to house homeless LGBT teens in Memphis will be modeled after Kentucky's Habitat for Humanity homes for veterans.

"The concept is to use shipping containers on our own property to build an emergency shelter for young people," Batts said.

Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center works to provide support for LGBT people ages 18-25.

In Phase I of the project, funded by grants and donations, the plan is to house at least four people with one live-in room parent.

Project leaders said there is a strict screening process in place.

"Tell us why you're homeless. Do you have any legal issues? Do you have any addiction issues, medical issues? Tell us how we can help you," are all questions Batts said the applicants will need to answer.

The goal is to build the housing on a vacant lot off Southern Avenue, just south of the railroad near Castalia Street. There is still no definitive timeline of when they will break ground.

MGLCC is still waiting on approval from the Shelby County Planning Commission.

Their last attempt failed after several residents in Orange Mound raised concerns.

"We tried to address some of those concerns. We weren't able to work it out," Batts said. 

In spite of the challenges, Batts said he wants to give these teens temporary housing while providing hope and doesn't expect any issues over shelter safety.

"I tell you, the three years that we ran that housing program, we never had any issue with violence or stealing from our kids," Batts said. "It was never a concern of ours."

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