Housing Assistance and Supportive Services in Memphis. Current Broad Initiatives Relevant to Health and Human Services for Low-Income Households

01/05/2013

There are many organizations and initiatives in Memphis currently (or recently) serving high-needs populations and distressed neighborhoods. Several of these initiatives have ambitious, sweeping goals, and most are new, starting within the past year. The large number of initiatives brings both opportunity and challenges: if the different actors coordinate, they could make a powerful collective impact, but if they do not, there is a high risk that there will be substantial duplication of efforts and even conflict.

 

A.     Strong Cities, Strong Communities. In 2011, Memphis was selected as one of six cities to participate in the Obama Administration's Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative. The goal of the SC2 initiative is to foster economic growth and stability by streamlining federal government processes, leveraging federal resources, and building local capacity by fostering collaboration, improving communication, strengthening networks among local stakeholders and improving local infrastructure. The issues of housing for the poor and improving health and economic status for poor families are a key component of this initiative.

 

B.      Bloomberg/Social Innovation Fund is a three-year initiative designed to help mayors effectively resolve city challenges. Memphis is one of five cities to be selected for this initiative, which began in July 2011. The initiative defines three priority areas: innovative solutions, implementation plans, and progress towards defined targets. Within these priority areas, Memphis will focus on implementing new job-growth strategies. This priority area is aligned with Memphis Mayor Wharton's goals to increase small business growth in target neighborhoods and reduce handgun violence. The Bloomberg/Social Innovation Fund in Memphis is in the beginning processes of creating and leveraging programs to revitalize vacant property throughout the core of Memphis and reduce handgun violence. The $4.8 million over the three-years will directly fund the innovation delivery team assigned to creating plans, setting goals, and monitoring progress.

 

C.      National Youth Violence Forum is a part of the Obama Administration's National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. In April 2010, Memphis became one of six cities participating in the creation and implementation of a comprehensive community-based plan to address youth and gang violence. Representatives from public and private local agencies have formed the Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Policy Council to assess effective practices in juvenile violence prevention, intervention, re-entry, and enforcement. The Forum is co-led by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education and leverages resources from other federal agencies such as Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and Centers for Disease Control. The federal agencies are charged with attempting to better coordinate funding streams at a local level.

 

D.     Teen Pregnancy Prevention

The Memphis Adolescent Parent Program is a Memphis City Schools (MCS) collaborative initiative for pregnant and parenting students aimed at providing comprehensive services for students working toward educational and self-sufficiency goals. The program receives resources from a combination of local and federal agencies, including MCS Mental Health Center, Memphis-Shelby Health Department, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Le Bonheur Community Health and Well Being “Be Proud! Be Responsible! Memphis!” Program is a teen pregnancy prevention program collaborative effort between school centers, schools, and churches in Memphis funded by a $4 million grant from the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over four years. The goals of the program are to increase knowledge and reduce risky sexual behaviors.

 

The Tennessee Department of Health is the recipient of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Abstinence Grant for $1,141,533. It is unclear at this time which local organizations and initiatives are receiving funding from the Abstinence Grant.

 

E.      Choice Neighborhoods is the successor to HUD's HOPE VI program, and provides grants intended to revitalize both distressed public housing and the surrounding neighborhood. MHA received a Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant in FY2010 for its last family public housing development (Foote Homes) and the Vance Avenue neighborhood (which is also the neighborhood where the most recent HOPE VI grant was based). This $250,000 grant is being used to determine the best way to help rebuild and revitalize the neighborhood. This process includes forming partnerships within local nonprofits and other local government entities, such as the police department.

 

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