Homelessness in Memphis continues to be an issue for thousands of people

MEMPHIS, TENN. — Homelessness in Memphis continues to be an issue for thousands of people.

“It’s rough out here trying to make it while it’s cold out, but you got to keep on pushing though,” said Delmus Gigger.

Gigger is 70-years old, and he says the last ten plus years on the streets have not been easy. He says the pandemic has made it harder for him to get access to resources like food and water at local shelters.

“We need food, money and a roof over our head. It’s cold out here and we just want a warm bed,” Gigger explained.

The Memphis Union Mission has seen an increase in the number of people who’ve asked for assistance during the pandemic. They’ve sheltered over 8,000 people in the pandemic and served more than 20,000 meals to those who go hungry. They’re currently building what they’re calling an opportunity center to serve men, women and children in need of food, shelter and other care. They’re now in Phase 1 of construction for the building and plans for opening in the coming months.

“I think it’s great. Anything that can help our community, our homeless people and anyone in need is a plus,” said community member Donna Watkins.

The Memphis union mission says when all three phases are completed the opportunity center will provide a place for over 350 guests to spend the night, a warm place to eat and classroom seating 50 guests for GED and literacy education.

“A lot of people aren’t working and people who were getting unemployment are getting it anymore so it’s a struggle. It’s a struggle,” explained Watkins.

Giggers says he’s waiting for the doors to open.

“It’ll help. It’ll help,” said Giggers.

The Opportunity Center is scheduled to be open before the summer.