How is Memphis Doing in the Fight to End Homelessness?

written by Sam Batko
February 6, 2014


Ms. B was found when she was 6 months pregnant and she and her four year-old son were living in the park. She had been involved in a family violence situation and the Department of Children’s Services was investigating. The child she carried weighed only one pound and the doctors felt the baby would likely not survive. In addition to being homeless, she and her son were literally starving and not surprisingly, her son was having a tough time in school.

She was enrolled in the Strong Families Initiative that permanently houses homeless, child welfare involved families. With her new housing and stability, she has successfully carried her baby to term and is expecting a healthy delivery any day now.

She describes the huge relief she feels knowing that she has a safe place for herself and her children. Although tackling tough issues that would challenge any of us, these issues are more surmountable with a supportive team from Strong Families and her neighbors, now friends.

The Homelessness Research Institute (HRI) has restarted (and redesigned) its Community Snapshot series. The first community to be featured is Memphis-Shelby County, TN. The Community Snapshot series aims to identify communities that have success in reducing homelessness and highlight replicable strategies identified as contributing to that success. In Memphis, TN, stakeholders identified prioritizing ending chronic homelessness, increasing the supply of permanent supportive housing, and converting transitional housing.

Memphis completed their 10 year plan to end homelessness in 2010 and began implementation in 2011. Since 2011 the county has increased its supply of permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness by 44 percent, going from 562 units to 803 units. Additionally, it converted transitional housing stock to rapid re-housing. Transitional housing units decreased by 46 percent since 2010.

Between 2011 and 2013, the number people in families experiencing homelessness in Memphis decreased by six percent (from 707 to 665 people). And, the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness decreased by 17 percent. From 2012 to 2013 alone, overall homelessness in the county decreased by 12.5 percent.

One new part of our revamped Community Snapshot series is a personal story from a family or individual who was helped by the efforts undertaken by the community. The Memphis Community Snapshot, which is also embedded in this blog post, features a moving story about Ms. B and her son and their path from a park to housing stability. Ms. B's story exemplifies the incredible work that providers in Memphis are doing.

Read more about the work being done in Memphis here.

Is your community reducing homelessness? Get your community featured on our 2014 Point-in-Time Count map to let us know if homelessness has gone down and you may be selected as a community snapshot community as well.