NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Nashville’s new plan to get homeless people out of camps, copies what worked in Houston, Texas. Experts have long since called Nashville’s old plan “outdated.”
“A bold and ambitious plan to get Nashville’s most vulnerable population off the streets and into stable, safe environments,” said Mayor John Cooper, during a press conference.
A $50 million investment in Nashville has been in the works for weeks, headed by Mayor Cooper’s office, in hopes to get people off the streets.
“I’ve worked in this industry for 26 years, and I’ve seen the pan and the depression, and I can tell you housing with adequate wrap-around resources, reduces homelessness,” said April Calvin, the Interim Director for the Metro Homeless Impact Division.
Nashville’s taking the “housing-first” approach, used by Houston. A New York Times article reported in the last decade, the city had moved more than 25,000 homeless people into housing.
“We know it’s difficult to get sober, it’s difficult to get a job, it’s difficult to do anything unless you have that safe stable home, you know you have a roof over your head. So, that’s really the priority for us,” explained Julie Falcon with The Beacon in Houston.
The Beacon works as a central hub for those experiencing homelessness. The organization’s goal is to connect individuals with supportive housing. Oftentimes, The Beacon is the first point of entry.
Falcon explained the reason they have been so successful is that advocates and organizations are now working together in unison.
“We see housing as healthcare,” said Falcon. “Might we be able to create a pathway for them to get into the housing that would take less than 30 days versus now, where it would take months.”
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Their goal is to re-home first and then focus on issues like substance abuse and mental health.
“To expect someone to come out of that, get a job, and crawl their way out of that horrible situation before they can get housed and food in their belly, it just doesn’t make sense,” said Ana Rausch, the Vice President of the Coalition for the Homeless in Houston.
It’s focused on rapid re-housing, and it’s achieved by taking people out of encampments and into affordable housing by partnering with landlords, apartment complexes and homes built by the city.
“In order to really make a dent in the homeless population you need the affordable housing to go with it,” said Rausch. “Houston, we’ve been lucky because we had apartment units that we call affordable that would pass fair market rent standards and so we’re able to house individuals with those apartments.”
Metro Council is set to vote on Mayor Cooper’s plan on Oct. 4.