OUTMemphis (formerly the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center) has closed on a piece of Shelby County Land Bank property at 2059 Southern for its project to house homeless LGBTQ young adults ages 18 to 25.
The sale closed on Wednesday. According to a letter from OUTMemphis to the Shelby County Board of Adjustments (BOA), the proposed project will span three parcels on Southern near the Cooper-Young neighborhood. OUTMemphis is requesting a zoning variance from the BOA to use shipping containers to create "comfortable and unique living spaces for our youth."
They're also requesting a variance to increase the number of parking spaces allowed on the site to five spaces. Each parcel will have a maximum of four residents, so the parking will allow for one guest spot.
"We have modeled the project after other, similar facilities in cities such as New York and Ohio and have taken into account things that have proven to be successful. We plan to have 24-hour surveillance cameras around the facility for protection of our young adults as well as for neighborhood security. The site will have 24-hour staff supervision of all young adults present on the property to ensure order and respect of the neighborhood," reads the letter to the BOA.
The project serves a need currently unmet in Memphis, according to the letter.
"Currently there are no secure options in Memphis for this population. Emergency shelters currently in place have proven themselves unsafe for our LGBT young adults. LGBT people make up 7 to 10 percent of the general population but homeless LGBT youth make up between 20 to 40 percent of the homeless youth population. The numbers are overwhelming and have given us a reason to come up with a solution to help our youth here in Memphis. Our project will be a safe haven for young adults who are trying to improve their lives and move forward to a more stable place of their own," according to the letter.
The variance request will be heard at the BOA meeting on Wednesday, September 28th.