Out Memphis to provide housing for homeless LGBT youth

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It's a vacant lot now but the property on Southern Avenue in Cooper-Young will soon take on a new look.

Staff at Out Memphis - an organization providing resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals - has plans on the drawing board to build transitional housing for homeless LGBT youth.

It's called the Metamorphosis Project.

"We started it about four years ago and it has a couple of pieces to it," said Stephanie Reyes, the director of youth services. "The LGBT goal is to help youth 18-24 who are LGBT and experiencing homelessness, move toward independence and get off the streets."

Out Memphis provides the LGBT community with counseling, support groups, outreach and assistance in finding a job.
While the organization has a food pantry and clothes closet, there's not adequate housing to address the growing number of homeless LGBT youth.

"We can put a band-aid on everything but the gaping wound is that you don't have anywhere to live, right? So it's hard to focus on school or a job when you don't know where you're going to shower or keep your stuff."

Reyes said Out Memphis has been able to provide rent assistance to fourteen LGBT homeless youth through a program called Rapid Rehousing, which gives individuals a chance to get a job or go to school. But Reyes said the Metamorphosis Project will address the immediate need and give shelter to LGBT youth who, in many cases, have been rejected by their own families.

"I've had kids who got a duffle bag thrown on their bed at midnight on their 18th birthday and they were like, 'We don't have to take care of you anymore' and so that was that."

The shelter could be up and running by the fall, but there's no definite date.