Weekly Update

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For decades, Memphis has struggled with a high poverty rate and the issues associated with it—low educational attainment, and a high crime rate.

Prior to the pandemic, it appeared that our collective work at City Hall and elsewhere in Memphis was showing some success on this front. As noted in the 2020 Memphis Poverty Fact Sheet (a study conducted each year by the University of Memphis), our poverty rate decreased by 22 percent in 2019 to its lowest rate in at least the last 18 years.

Now, this isn’t to say that our poverty rate isn’t still too high. It is.

But, I wanted to point out to you that the significant decrease of those living at or below the poverty line in our city didn’t happen by accident. It’s something that we have worked on either directly or indirectly for last nearly five years.

When we work to bring good paying jobs to Memphis, it effects our level of poverty. Pre-COVID-19, 20,000 more Memphians were working than when I took office in 2016, and wages were rising. We increased the minimum wage requirement for companies to receive incentives to a livable wage. We encouraged Memphians to take advantage of Tennessee’s free job training opportunities in the form of community college and technical schools. We expanded our efforts to help people with criminal records get a second chance of successful re-entry.

When we work to create more affordable housing options, it effects our level of poverty. Quality affordable housing is vital to reducing intergenerational poverty, and we’ve incentivized the construction or remodeling of over 5,000 units with plans to do even more.

When someone has access to a good education, it effects our level of poverty. While I know this is certainly a longer-term approach, I’m proud to say in partnership with City Council, Shelby County Government, and Shelby County Schools, we found a way to fund universal, needs-based Pre-K to every child who needs it for the first time in City history.

When we give our young people productive outlets and keep them engaged in learning, it effects our level of poverty. Prior to the pandemic, we had greatly increased those activities. We had increased the number of youth summer jobs compared to when we took office by 90 percent, and we worked with the private sector to create even more. Youth library programming and parks youth athletics participation had more than doubled, and 37% more youth are using our community centers.

While this pandemic has been difficult—financially and otherwise—for many of us, our commitment to reducing poverty is unwavering, and our focus on everything I mentioned above is as strong as it ever has been.

TN Task Force 1: For the fifth time this year, TN Task Force 1 has been deployed. The group, consisting of 80 first responders including firefighters, paramedics, doctors and engineers left Memphis yesterday morning heading to Ponchatoula, Louisiana to help with any need caused by Hurricane Delta.

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Thanks so much to the team for always answering the call to serve and helping whenever and wherever necessary.

Miracle on the 7th hole: For many, golf is a time to relax (maybe), get outdoors, and be with your friends or family. Typically, when you think of it—it’s not a life or death event.

This past week at The Links at Galloway, it was that kind of a situation.

On the 7th hole, Galloway staff members noticed a flurry of activity, and they knew something wasn’t right. When they arrived on the green, a golfer didn’t have a pulse, and they immediately started performing CPR. While one staff member kept performing CPR, another ran to the clubhouse to grab an AED Machine. They attached the pads and started the machine until they received a pulse and the paramedics arrived.

Without the quick reaction of the Galloway team members, this story could have had a much different outcome. Thanks to Sam Thetford, David Wolff, Keith Hardy, Andrea Smith, Larry Bibb, and Joe Conry for jumping into action.

Stay safe this weekend.


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