by Joan Allison, Focus® magazines managing editor
Memphis leader, Kayla Gore, is making big news with improved construction plans for her tiny homes for the homeless — and in an upcoming National Geographic documentary series produced by Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot.
Transgender dynamo Kayla Gore has re-visioned her plan to end homelessness among black transgender women in Memphis. Her project, My Sistah’s House LLC (MSH), has broken ground on a studio duplex on the exact street (and block) in the Hamilton Middle School neighborhood where Gore grew up.
And soon, Gore’s project will be making news around the world when National Geographic presents her story as part of a short-form documentary series. A crew for the series, “National Geographic Presents: IMPACT with Gal Gadot,” was in Memphis in late January to film Gore during the tiny house build. Gadot (star of “Wonder Woman”) is one of the executive producers on the series.
Jenn DeGuzman, media relations VP at National Geographic, said the series will follow the “powerful stories of six women who are making an extraordinary impact on their communities around the world. Despite living in areas marred by violence, poverty, trauma, discrimination, oppression and natural disasters,” DeGuzman said, “these brave women remain undeterred as they dare to dream, stand out, speak up and lead.” Gadot posted a preview reel of the project, including a wide shot of the Hernando DeSoto Bridge, on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/p/CJeU0Yhh7Ns/. The series is expected to air starting in Winter, 2021.
Meanwhile back in Memphis, the new plan for My Sistah’s House replaces one that would have used prefabricated structures. The project is now a stick-built duplex on a slab foundation. Crews got to work on the new build in mid-January.
Leading the construction is Dwayne A. Jones Construction LLC. A contractor, Dwayne Jones is no stranger to building housing for the homeless. He gained national recognition for building a tiny-home community for the homeless in Nashville, and he’s continued to build super-affordable housing in Memphis with his trademark ‘Cozy Homes.’ My Sistah’s House plans to purchase one of Jones’ one-bedroom cozy homes in Orange Mound to add to their housing options.
DKGR Architects in Indianapolis donated their services and designed the modern duplex with two 400 sq. ft. units. Both will feature 9’ walls, vaulted ceilings, and exteriors with modern trellises on the front and back porches. One of the units will be ADA compliant.
Gore’s plans do not end with this project. She hopes to purchase three more lots on the same street for similar structures. The location provides easy access to major bus lines. She’s also added new staff members to help with MSH projects. Coming on board in October 2020 was native Memphian Alexis Jackson who will be the associate director of programs. Jackson is a black trans woman herself and says that after overcoming personal obstacles, she was purposeful in switching to a career where she could give back to the community. Leo Granados, also a native Memphian, recently joined the team and will serve as the director of operations in charge of the MSH ‘Hot Meal’ program. This program prepares hot meals that are delivered to Morris Park on Poplar Avenue, across from St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, and to Constance Abbey on Hamlin Street. Granados says she is looking for a commercial kitchen for this program so that they can expand this service.
See more about those featured here:
My Sistah’s House https://mshmemphis.org/
Dwayne Jones https://www.dwayneajones.com/
DKGR Architects https://www.dkgrar.com/