Homeless people call themselves family in Memphis woods - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Homeless people call themselves family in Memphis woods

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(WMC-TV) - It is a city within a city.

A community of homeless residents living in the woods, in the Raleigh area, call themselves a family. They take what little they have seriously.

"These people are very strong due to their conditions, and you must respect them and value them," said Lloyd May who used to be homeless.

May is familiar with the dirt roads and dilapidated houses near Austin Peay and Stage Road. He is also familiar with the people who live here because he used to be one of them.

"They're so alienated, afraid, paranoid, and down," said May.

May lived in an old depression era farmhouse for four years.

He now has another home, but said there are still permanent residents in the area – and many who come and go.

"Of course we're in the woods. So I have a fireplace, a propane cooking stove, use batteries for my lights," said Pam who one of the many who reside in the area.

She said she loves these woods and will do anything to protect them.

"It's just like home. I call it 'Little House on the Prairie' days. People survived back in those days without electricity and had to tote their water. We do that," she said.

Pam said the woods and this lifestyle saved her from drugs.

"No drugs, lots of drinking here, but no drugs. Used to have a meth lab up here but police ran everybody away – so they come up and check on us," she said.

Residents said city code inspectors often return to check out their living conditions.

The city was contacted for comment on this story but did not return Action News 5's calls.

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