Shelters open for homeless as temperatures drop

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some nights it’s not guaranteed Randal Brasher will have a place to sleep.

That’s because he’s been living on the streets of Memphis for the past seven months.

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He said cold nights can be tough on the body.

“Arthritis and if you’ve ever been frost bitten, it carries on a serious case of aches and pains,” Brasher said.

With wind chills dipping into the single digits Wednesday night, finding shelter is imperative.

Brasher is one of several people seeking shelter with Room In the Inn Memphis which is a congregational network for emergency shelter during the winter season.

“To see can my number be pulled from the lottery,” Brasher said. “If there is an opportunity. Some nights there is. Some nights there’s not.”

Executive Director Lisa Anderson said the organization works on a lottery system due to the limited number of spaces available.

“We prioritize women,” Anderson said. “So, women get a ticket every night if they are appropriate for being in this community and men can come a couple of times a week and draw a ticket that guarantees them a space.”

The organization helped a total of 236 people last season, visiting 36 host congregations across the Greater Memphis area.

“We organize them to go out in small groups of 12 to 15 people to the congregations,” Anderson said. “They serve them dinner, they give them a safe-warm place to sleep at night, transportation to and from downtown.”

Serving those like Brasher helps to keep the shelter going year after year.

“We know that churches have big open spaces that are heated and warm and safe and there are people in churches that want to make a difference and we’re trying to put those people together with people I need,” Anderson explained.

Anderson said the organization is always looking for new congregations to open their doors.