VOL. 133 | NO. 134 | Friday, July 6, 2018
By Patrick Lantrip
Most mornings it’s not uncommon to see dozens of homeless Memphians lined up outside Hospitality Hub’s Downtown location, hoping to get selected for the nonprofit’s Work Local program, which offers $50 and a meal in exchange for five hours of work cleaning up around the city.
Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, only 10 people can be selected per day, said Keynnon Mumphrey, director of the Work Local program.
But thanks to a new partnership with the University Neighborhoods Development Corporation that adds an extra day to the program, 10 more homeless people a week will get the opportunity to earn a hot meal and a paycheck. Mumphrey said that money potentially could pay for up to half a month at the mission.
James Banks and Nadya Landfair pick up trash along Southern Avenue near Highland Street. Banks and Landfair were two of the 10 people selected Friday, June 29, by Hospitality Hub’s Work Local program to help clean up the University District. (Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)
“Our mission and our goal with (Work Local) is to provide both opportunities for the homeless population and to beautify the streets of the University District,” UNDC executive director Cody Fletcher said. “We have eight different neighborhoods that cover our geographic area, including the campus and the Highland Strip entertainment center, and it’s our goal to clean up the streets and make it more visually appealing to improve the quality of life for residents and students.”
Fletcher, who’s been recently appointed to run the new development corporation, said he got the idea from a social media post by the Memphis Medical District Collaborative.
“So I reached out to them and got some more information about the program,” Fletcher said. “Keynnon came out with a group of folks and they cleaned up something like 60 bags of litter, three couches, TVs, entertainment centers, just all kinds of stuff from the University District Streets.”
After a pilot run of the program in May, Fletcher said he made it his mission to secure the necessary long-term funding to make the partnership happen.
“The city of Memphis funds the administrative costs, and the partnership organizations, like the UNDC fund the salaries, so we had to come up with at least six months of funding to get these folks to come out once a week,” he said.
He eventually ended up securing eight funding partners, including the University of Memphis, Keep Tennessee Beautiful, UNDC, East Buntyn Neighborhood Association, Normal Station Neighborhood Association, Loeb Properties and University District Inc., another area nonprofit.
“We’re making a conscious effort to collaborate with community partners to create programs that directly impact the University District,” Fletcher said. “That hasn’t happened before now. This is really our first major partnership, and it’s one that we’re super excited about.”
Meanwhile, Mumphrey said the program only has room to grow and hopes to see more partnerships like these in the future.
“To have 60 people outside and only be able to take 10 is major,” he said. “If we had another van, we could expand and grow even larger. We could take two crews if we had another driver and another van, and could do twice the work because we could take 10 more people five days a week.”