Critic Calls Proposed Memphis Homeless Women’s Shelter “Waiting Room To Nowhere”

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Sometimes disagreements pop up on issues you’d never think there’d be any disagreement on.
It’s what makes Memphis, Memphis.
The latest concerns a woman’s homeless shelter. There’s disagreement about it.

And here it is.
From Brad Watkins of Mid-South Peace and Justice who say, “The answer to homelessness is housing.”
That is NOT a dumb answer. Stick with me and I will tell you why.

Clearly, however, Brad Watkins is not happy.
Not happy about a plan that was brought out with great fanfare last week to both members of the Memphis City Council and the Shelby County Commission.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland was clearly pleased when he announced, “We are ready to execute on this project and we have identified the resources of the city’s side to get it done.”

A million or so dollars from the city.
Another million or so from the county.
$5 million from a private individual to Hospitality Hub.
Put them all together, you get a 32-bed women’s homeless shelter, and a place where the other homeless can hang during the day.
It is not going to be a homeless Riviera.
Kelcey Johnson of Hospitality Hub says, “Everything Hospitality Hub does is an effort to help an individual exit homelessness.”

This is the main point of contention.
Brad Watkins says shelters only help people stay warm and dry.
They normally do not help folks adjust to living in permanent housing.
“Is this really about helping people,” he asks, “… or is this a ribbon cutting and a name, you know, a building someone can put their name on in an election year.”

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s folks say they have no comment on what Watkins is saying
Don’t get Watkins wrong, by the way, there is a place for a 32-bed women’s shelter in Memphis, for a little while anyway.
“Shelters are good because you need a place for people to go right now,” Watkins says. “But if you’re not creating anything for them to leave, you’re just creating a waiting room to nowhere.”

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