NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The long-standing homeless encampment located near the TA truck stop just blocks away from Nissan Stadium is officially closed, making way for Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) crews to begin cleaning up the state-owned property.
Last month, Metro’s Office of Homeless Services (OHS) notified the more than 30 people living in the TA truck stop encampment about the city’s housing surge process. Over the past few weeks, the OHS provided housing options and wrap-around services to the individuals living in the encampment as a part of its Housing First initiative.
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On Friday, everyone was moved out and the encampment was officially closed for clean up, which is TDOT’s responsibility since it’s the state’s property.
“This has been something that has become overgrown over the years, and our job here is to make sure that right of way is maintained in a safe and reasonable way,” Rebekah Hammonds, the TDOT community relations officer, said.
TDOT plans to bring in its hazmat team as early as Saturday to begin removing the dangerous debris left behind. Then, crews will use heavy machinery to get rid of the trash and cut down the vegetation to ensure people don’t move back in.
“What we don’t want is to make this a desirable place to camp or live or stay, so if we get rid of shade and trees and grass, all those things, it’s going to look pretty barren once we’re done, but that’s the point,” Hammonds said.
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In addition, TDOT will replace the damaged fencing and reseed and straw the land.
The process won’t happen overnight. Metro Councilman Jacob Kupin told News 2 those living in the encampment built up quite the community over the years.
“It’s interesting to see how people have really made this their home,” Kupin said. “They’ve set up tents, they’ve set up couches, they’ve set up living rooms and areas to store their things, so I think people were really settled here.”
However, Kupin said everyone was excited to be offered housing options and other services, adding they were all taken care of.
There are around 10 other encampments in Davidson County on state property, ranging in size from one to 50 residents, according to Hammonds. She pointed out that while it’s TDOT’s responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, the department understands the complexities of the issue and will continue to work with Metro to address the problem using best practices.
“An effort like this, it’s not cheap, but it’s something where we have to work with Metro to be sensitive to these individuals and their conditions and make sure they are rehoused in a safe environment, and then we can continue to do our job.”
Metro police will patrol the TA truck stop throughout the weekend to ensure people don’t move back in.