MEMPHIS, Tenn. – At least 34 people across Tennessee are believed to have died as a result of last week’s winter storm.
That includes 11 just in Shelby County.
And while it’s not clear yet how they died, it’s underscoring concerns about homelessness in our community.
291 adults and children came to the Hospitality Hub last week to seek shelter from the freezing temperatures and get warm.
“There’s a lot of homeless people in Memphis. I never knew how many people there were until I got put in this situation,” said Brandy Williams, homeless.
A clearer picture of the status of homelessness in Shelby County is coming into focus.
It comes after at least 11 people in the county are believed to have died as a result of the winter storm.
This number may be car crashes or other storm-related injuries, but some could also be people who found themselves stuck in the dangerously frigid temperatures.
Shelby County Commissioner Britney Thornton has long worked to help the homeless problem in the area.
Now she wants to do more after she spent a week at the Hospitality Hub.
“We have a lot of work to do. The city invests, and the county is underinvesting,” said Britney Thornton, Shelby County Commissioner.
Thornton said Shelby County has a budget twice as large as the city.
She said her goal is to get more funding for the Hospitality Hub so they can expand.
Thornton also hopes to provide more satellite locations across the county so people can have greater access, stability, and resources in their neighborhood by 2025.
“If the practice right now is to send people downtown to receive services, we are going to send them back to their neighborhoods where they can stay in place, get rehoused and stay in their neighborhoods,” said Thorton.
Commissioner Thornton said she will bring this plan to address the homelessness crisis to the Shelby County Commission meeting Wednesday morning.