MEMPHIS, Tenn — OUT Memphis has announced the opening of its Youth Emergency Center, helping teens who are experiencing homelessness.
If you walk into the newly opened youth emergency center, you’ll find a home for LGBTQ+ youth who no longer have a place to lay their head at night.
“I grew up in Mississippi so I mean there’s nothing for anybody in my area who identifies as LGBTQ+,” said Stephanie Bell, the director of Metamorphosis Project at OUT Memphis. “I mean me I was in the closet for a long time so I didn’t have a space where I could come and hangout with other people like me.”
For Bell, being able to help youth experiencing homelessness is a fulfilling job.
“If they choose you know save of their money since they’re already employed we can just help them find an apartment and they’ll be self-sustaining themselves,” said Bell.
OUT Memphis’ Youth Emergency Center offers housing for 30 days and the organization also offers rapid re-housing for 6 to 24 months.
“If they need like emergency housing they can get that rapid rehousing,” Bell explained. “If they say hey I just need case management or I just need help getting a job or if they want to connect when we’re doing our annual job fair or they may want to take advantage of our life skills classes. They can do that.”
Emergency housing at the youth center accommodates four people at a time.
OUT Memphis’ executive director, Molly Quinn said it’s been about 6 years since the first conversation started concerning the youth emergency center.
“We had people, young adults, calling us from all over the region who just Googled us and found that they needed and were looking for housing support.,” said Quinn.
The youth center is the third arm of the Metamorphosis Project, which is OUT Memphis’ long-term solution to ending youth homelessness in Memphis.
Nationally 40% of youth living on the street are LGBTQ+.
“It really comes down to this core piece of family conflict, is what we call that situation,” said Quinn. “It’s parents kicking their kids out because they’re coming out as gay. They’re coming out as trans. When you’re in that age range the combination of the lack of resources and the lack of any family and often friendship support is so devastating.”