The City of Jackson is one step closer to having a men’s homeless shelter, the first in over two decades.
“It’s giving people an opportunity,” Mayor Scott Conger said at the ribbon cutting. “Our men have not had a transitional shelter, or shelter, in the last 25 years. To have a shelter that is focused on transitioning from homelessness to having a home, in providing those wrap-around services, is important.”
Wednesday, April 19, City officials and other stakeholders held the groundbreaking ceremony at the lot on McCorry St., near Downtown Jackson.
“It just really means a lot for our community to come together and see something like this as essential. A lot of times we will stereotype unhoused people or make assumptions about them, and really, they just need a helping hand. They need a place to start,” City of Jackson Chief Innovation Officer Lauren Kirk said at the groundbreaking.
The shelter, expected to be complete by January 2024, will have 17 dorm rooms. There is also office space, a kitchen, and an apartment for an on-site attendant.
The cost of the shelter is expected to be $1.5 million, not including operating costs. The money is coming from the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan Act. Due to the Federal Grant money, the shelter must meet Housing and Urban Development specifications, including the restrictions on congregate housing.
Due to those HUD restrictions, only 17 men will be housed at the shelter in the beginning. That number is expected to double once restrictions are eased, and bunk beds can be purchased.
The shelter is being built by Henson Construction Services and TLM Associates, who are expected to use recycled shipping containers as part of the design.
The Men’s Homeless Shelter will be maintained by Tennessee Homeless Solutions. The organization was the only respondent to the request for proposal. Under the contract, Tennessee Homeless Solutions must give quarterly reports to the City.
The goal at the Men’s Homeless Shelter is to provide wrap-around services to help these men get back on their feet.
The Men’s Homeless Shelter is being built on McCorry St., just off Airways Blvd. It is near a bus stop, Regional Inter-Faith Association, and other services downtown. Lauren Kirk, who has spearheaded this project, says the location was an important factor in building the shelter.
“We really wanted the shelter to be located Downtown because we believe Downtown is for everyone, and we believe that it’s important for them to be located in the heart of our city with resources that they need. So regardless of what visions we may have for new development in the future, any new developments will have to consider all of the people, especially the least of these,” Kirk said.
Unhoused women and children in Jackson and Madison County have traditionally had places to go during their transitions, such as the Dream Center and Care Center. The only option for men has been Room in the Inn, which only houses men overnight.
Talks for a Men’s Homeless Shelter started in 2019, according to city officials. However, there was no funding at the time to complete the project.
In 2020, an unhoused individual died as a result of not having shelter. At that point, the city worked with other support services to provide temporary housing at the Civic Center from December 2020 to March 2021, when the Civic Center was closed due to Covid.
The city says because of those partnerships, and later the CARES Act and ARPA funding, the homeless shelter became a reality.
“This is just a start. We will have other phases that we want to look at adding on to, as more funding comes and operations happen,” Conger said, “In an ideal world, we will get to a point where we don’t need this building. But the reality is we continue to need it, we will continue to serve people, and create and continue and foster those partnerships to serve people.”
Julia Ewoldt, firstname.lastname@example.org