NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The number of homeless families in Nashville has more than doubled since January 2022, from 233 to more than 480, according to Safe Haven Family Shelter; more than 30 groups will try to house 100 families in 100 days as a part of a new challenge to address the issue.
“We’ve seen more families on the by-name list, which is what we do with coordinated entry to track who is experiencing homelessness, than we have in many years,” said Rod DeVore, director of 2-Gen Initiatives at United Way.
Metro’s Office of Homeless Services (OHS) has seen the need firsthand. According to its director, April Calvin, the OHS houses an average of 29 families per month, with 61 new families becoming homeless during the same time.
Officials with Safe Haven Family Shelter said homeless families in Nashville are waiting an average of 101 days before being placed in housing; in 2019, they were waiting around 69 days.
The cost of housing a family has also grown from $4,100 in 2019 to $7,100 now, according to officials.
In addition, helping homeless families comes with its fair share of unique challenges.
“Some of them have past evictions we have to help them resolve,” said Drew Freeman, the CEO of Safe Haven Family Shelter. “Some of them may be missing a driver’s license or a birth certificate, so we help them get those things as well. Some may have kids and they don’t have childcare, so it’s hard for them to work. So we try to find opportunities for their kids into education situations so they can look out and make a living.”
United Way of Greater Nashville, the Family Collective, and Safe Haven Family Shelter are working with 30 other nonprofits and government groups in Davidson County to launch a challenge to house 100 families in 100 days. The goal is to bring the community together and use the latest, best practices in supporting families experiencing homelessness to house them faster, making homelessness a rare and brief experience in Nashville, according to those involved.
The effort is supported by the national nonprofit, Community Solutions, which selected Nashville to be the nation’s model in housing homeless families.
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The organizations have already begun meeting in groups focusing on outreach, data quality, landlord engagement, shelter access, and rapid rehousing. They’ve successfully housed three families in the first two days, according to officials.
Officials are seeking monetary and household good donations, as well as landlords and property owners willing to support the effort by providing affordable housing. To get involved or learn more, click here.