Emergency shelter for homeless LGBTQ+ youth to open in South Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new, unique project springing up in the South Memphis neighborhood intends to address a growing issue of homelessness.

The Metamorphosis Project, an emergency shelter, is going in a space that was once just an empty, grassy lot on Southern Avenue.

Unlike most housing, this shelter is almost entirely made from steel shipping containers.

“We were trying to think of something different and unique, and the containers are already made,” Out Memphis development and education director Stephanie Reyes said. “They’re there, and we’re trying to save money and save time. We thought that would be a good route to go.

Reyes said when finished, the shelter will look totally different and will address a crisis that Memphis is not fully prepared to handle. The project is in effort to help youth ages 18-24 who are LGBTQ+ and experiencing homelessness.

“There’s been a lot of national studies that have found up to 40% of youth on the street identify as LGBT,” Reyes said.

Out Memphis, the local resource for counseling, support and housing assistance for the LGBT community, is finally seeing a five-year dream take root.

“We do know that we continuously have young people coming to the center looking for shelter, emergency shelter, and we’re very, very limited on options here in Memphis,” Reyes said.

The overnight shelter will house four people for up to 30 days. A drop-in center at the same location will provide shelter for anyone under 25 years old.

“Not specifically LGBTs, but any young person who’s in need of being connected to emergency services,” Reyes said.

Reyes said studies have found the main cause of LGBTQ+ homelessness is family rejection, or youths who are kicked out when they come out.

“I’ve had lots of program participants whose parents like threw a duffel bag on their 18th birthday at midnight, and ‘We’re done. I don’t have to take care of you anymore,'” Reyes said.

Plans are for the emergency shelter to be completed by mid-January 2020 if the weather cooperates.

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