Weekly Update: Continued progress in reducing homelessness


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You probably know by now that I view my job as equal parts celebrating our successes and being clear-eyed about our challenges. I’m leading today’s Weekly Update with an area in which we have both — homelessness.

Like in many major cities, this is a decades-old challenge. It is not yet solved, of course. We continue our work, hand-in-hand with the Community Alliance for the Homeless. (Thanks to Chere' Bradshaw and her staff for their great day-in, day-out work.)

Although we certainly have more work ahead of us, we are also seeing some positive signs. During the 2018 point-in-time count conducted by the CAFTH, some 1,226 Memphians were counted to be experiencing homelessness — down 14 percent from 2017 and down 41 percent from 2012. Of the 1,226, the vast majority were spending the night either at a shelter or transitional housing.

Also since 2012:

  • Chronic homelessness is down 67 percent
  • Veteran homelessness is down 42 percent
  • Family homelessness is down 50 percent
  • Sheltered homelessness is down 36 percent
  • Unsheltered homelessness is down 69 percent

Though we pride ourselves on data-driven governance, we must also remember that these numbers represent individual Memphians. This is a moral issue. And it compels us to continue to work our plan to achieve the day when homelessness simply ends.

No quarter for gangs, guns: One of the many components of our increased focus on reducing violent crime has been a stronger working relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We highlighted some of those results in this space back in June.

Just this week, a member of the Grape Street Crips gang was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for the possession of a firearm in a robbery, thanks to the strong prosecution of U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant’s office. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with partners like Mike to rid our neighborhoods of gangs and illegally used guns.

Also, please know that alongside our partners at the Shelby County Sheriff's Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, we will be increasing patrols on our interstates.

Thanks, TNTF1: For the second time recently, Tennessee Task Force 1, a rescue team comprised in large part of the men and women of Memphis Fire, was called into action to respond to a hurricane — this time, Hurricane Michael. As of last check, TNTF1 was working in the hard-hit area of Mexico Beach, Florida. I thank them for their selfless service and wish them safe travels.

MEMFIX 4 continues: Full closures of I-240 east and westbound and Poplar Avenue east and westbound are scheduled to take place this weekend and each of the next two weekends. They start at 9 p.m. on Friday and end at 6 a.m. on Monday.

Remember, this is TDOT’s way of doing major, necessary road work to take as short amount of time as possible. While this weekend closures are inconvenient, they sure beat multiple years of major lane closures. I appreciate the work they’re doing.

Thanks, MAS and MFD: Since taking office, we’ve worked to tear down walls between the various divisions of City government and build a true team atmosphere around improving what we do for you.

That’s particularly true with our leadership — from implementing senior leadership team meetings where diverse views inform my decision-making, to division director-wide meetings where we work to improve our services based on data, and to nitty-gritty meetings with all divisions in which Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen works to increase awareness and partnerships.

This work has produced many results — one of which I want to highlight today.

Faced with an incredibly high rate of intake later in the year than normal, Memphis Animal Services continues to think outside the box to ensure we have great outcomes for the animals in our care. One such program involves the Memphis Fire Department. In a pilot program this month, MAS animals are heading to fire stations, where firefighters can take care of them until a rescue transport is ready.

At least one pup seems to like his new friends; just check out Juice getting a bath and hanging out at Station 20 earlier this week.

Thanks to Fire Chief Gina Sweat, MAS Director Alexis Pugh, and all of the men and women of MFD and MAS for doing this. By working together — both outside City government and inside it — we will achieve the Memphis we all want.

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