NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — From 2019-2022, the number of people who became homeless for the first time in Nashville increased by nearly 75% according to Metro Homeless Impact Division data.
The data show 1,185 people experienced homelessness for the first time in 2019, compared to 2,060 in 2022.
The count includes people who entered emergency shelters, transitional housing, safe havens, rapid re-house, among other programs and did not have any program entries during the previous two years.
Shower the People co-founder Meredity McLeod Jaulin said she has been seeing this increase at stops around town as she helps people without housing get access to showers and toiletries.
“Some locations we’ve been at for years, we are noticing new faces every single week,” McLeod Jaulin said. “Some people maybe came [to Nashville] for some job prospects that, when they got here, wasn’t an actual job prospect, or were pushed out of their housing due to high rent prices.”
When asked about this trend, a spokesperson for the Metro Homeless Impact Division said homelessness is “fluid” and pointed to recent improvements in Nashville housing opportunities.
“Month-to-month, we exceed our monthly goal of focusing on and housing chronically homeless. We’ve rehoused 140 people during Phase 1 of our encampment housing surge, expanded our landlord incentive program that makes available more housing units, expanded housing vouchers, and much more. The road ahead is long and this issue cannot be fixed overnight, but the good news is great progress is happening and change is underway,” Metro Homeless Impact Division Communications Director Harriet Wallace said.
Until then, Shower the People said they are planning to keep giving people who are experiencing homelessness the tools and resources they need to be safe and clean, even if it’s just a sense normalcy with a shower.