NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The ongoing efforts of Metro Nashville to provide resources and housing leads for the unhoused population in the city has prompted the formation of a brand new department and a brand new director, Metro officials announced.
The new Office of Homeless Services will begin serving the unhoused in Nashville beginning July 1, Mayor John Cooper’s office announced, adding that April Calvin will serve as the department’s first-ever director.
According to Cooper’s office, Calvin has served as interim Director of Metro Nashville’s Homeless Impact Division, which was housed under the Metro Social Services Department. With the formation of the new department, Calvin will report directly to the mayor rather than Metro Social Services.
“It has been a privilege to work alongside April as we established Nashville as a ‘housing first’ city,” Cooper said. “She is the perfect person to lead our new department focused on finding unsheltered residents permanent homes with the resources to stay there. Homelessness is not a challenge unique to our city, but it is certainly one we are tackling head on. April’s proven leadership will allow us to continue to do so quickly, efficiently, and safely.”
The creation of the Office of Homeless Services is a critical piece of Cooper’s homelessness response plan, his office said. Last year, Cooper declared Nashville a “housing first” city and announced a $50 million homelessness response plan using federal funds. The city is currently in the first phase of his three-year plan and is already outpacing its goals, the mayor’s office announced.
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Last year, the Homeless Impact Division sought to house 25 chronically unhoused people each month. So far, the division has been able to house 31 people per month. Additionally, 383 chronically unsheltered people are now in housing with the help of the Homeless Impact Division over the last 12 months, the office said.
“In this past year, we made great strides as a community in addressing the needs of our unhoused residents,” Calvin said in the announcement. “Nashville has a community inside and outside government who cares deeply about getting our unhoused neighbors the help they need. I’m excited about this new challenge, and eager to get to work on behalf of our city’s most vulnerable.”
“Addressing homelessness is a critical and complex issue that requires the right leader to effect change. That leader is April Calvin, the newly appointed Director of the new Office of Homeless Services,” said Renee Pratt, executive director of Metro Social Services. “For more than a year, she has been the steady hand that the Metro Homeless Impact Division needed to remain balanced while pressing forward and making significant progress in reducing homelessness. I am certain that with her deep concern for our unhoused, unwavering compassion for addressing homelessness and her keen ability to work closely with the community, Nashville’s unhoused community is in great hands.”
According to Metro Social Services’ communications director, Calvin first joined the Homeless Impact Division as assistant director on Nov. 8, 2021. She was appointed as interim director in 2022.
Prior to her work with the Metro Homeless Impact Division, Calvin served as director of Social Services and program director for The Salvation Army.
“We’ve searched long and hard for just the right person we believe can move us forward in effectively and efficiently reducing homelessness in Nashville,” Pratt added. “We searched for a leader who possesses the elite skill set to build stronger bridges between Metro Government and our essential community partners in such a way that fosters collaboration, cohesiveness and inclusion. Our selection committee and Mayor John Cooper found that in April Calvin.”