Housing advocates rally for homeless - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Housing advocates rally for homeless

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

For several hours Thursday afternoon, a group rallied to highlight the plight of poor Memphians.

Mid-South Peace and Justice Center's Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality (HOPE) group organized the rally. HOPE is dedicated to help alleviate the plight of homeless Memphians.

Protesters gathered at Morris Park holding signs and hoping to create change. They took their message to the front door of the Memphis Housing Authority.

Mobile users: Click here to see pictures of the protest.

HOPE said there are far too many Section 8 managers who are taking advantage of residents. They also said it's time Memphis upgraded its homeless shelters.

HOPE's President, Toni Whitfield, was homeless for eight years. 

"It was rough; it was rough. I had about 15, 20 blankets and I stayed outside," Whitfield recalled. "I went to the shelter and they talked to me so bad, until I just went outside and laid on the ground."

HOPE Members said city leaders need to provide more access to shelters for women, people in the gay community, and those with disabilities.

The group had three major demands: delay the demolition of Foote Homes until current residents can be relocated, create a new shelter open to all people, and create minimum standards for all shelters in Memphis.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development cut ties with Global Ministries Foundation--the owners of the Tulane and Warren apartments in Memphis--after the group's properties received health code violations across the nation.

Protesters said these apartments are prime examples of why city leaders must do more to hold management accountable.

Thursday, protesters did get some results. Memphis Housing Authority Executive Director Marcia Lewis agreed to meet with the group next week to work out ways to improve the department.

"You know, they're why we're here," Lewis said. "So, I mean, priorities are people and that comes first."

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