NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The total number of people experiencing homelessness in Nashville has increased about 11% from last year, according to the city’s most recent Point-in-Time (PIT) Count.
The PIT Count is an annual one-night count of people experiencing homelessness as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That includes people sleeping outside and in vehicles, as well as people in shelters and in transitional housing.
This year in Nashville, there were 2,129 people experiencing homelessness documented on the evening of Jan. 26 and during the early morning hours of Jan. 27. Of those people, 1,539 were in shelters and 590 were unsheltered.
“Months of planning are required for the count each year,” said Metro Development and Housing Agency Executive Director Dr. Troy D. White. “This process continues to go smoothly thanks to the MDHA staff, the partners and the many volunteers involved from start to finish.”
MDHA conducts the count in collaboration with the Metro Homeless Impact Division, Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Mental Health Cooperative and other partners. More than 100 volunteers from 32 agencies and universities took part in this year’s count.
According to the MDHA, part of the increase in this year’s count may have been because of colder weather causing more people to seek out shelter, and therefore limiting the number of people volunteers needed to count outdoors.
On the night of the count, the temperature dropped to around 30 degrees, prompting the activation of Metro Social Services’ Extreme Cold Weather Overflow Shelter. The shelter was not activated during the 2022 count.
In addition to the Metro Social Services Extreme Cold Weather Overflow Shelter, Room In The Inn and Nashville Rescue Mission operated their shelter programs and counted people staying with them during that night, streamlining the process.
While the PIT Count is important in “establishing some dimension of homelessness” and data needed to address homelessness, the MDHA said the numbers only represent a “snapshot” of those in need, and do not reflect the true extent of homelessness over an entire year.
Additional key findings from the 2023 Count include:
⦁ 67% of the adult population experiencing homelessness on the night of the count were men
⦁ 45% of the adult population experiencing homelessness on the night of the count were Black
⦁ 79% of unsheltered individuals reported having a disability
⦁ 62% of unsheltered people surveyed are experiencing chronic homelessness
⦁ 50% of unsheltered individuals reported a history of substance use
⦁ 48% of unsheltered individuals reported mental health needs
⦁ 17% of unsheltered individuals reported fleeing domestic violence
In May 2022, Nashville Mayor John Cooper agreed to invest $50 million to reduce homelessness in the city, which is being carried out through the Housing First Initiative. As of March, 88 people were housed and two homeless encampments were closed as a part of the initiative.
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In a news release regarding the PIT Count, April Calvin, the director of the newly created Office of Homeless Services said the data gathered during this year’s count will be “vital for a data driven approach” as the city moves forward with the initiative.
“In a post pandemic era and an affordable housing crunch, we know that the road ahead is long, but we are inspired by; the city’s historic $50 million investment in addressing homelessness, expanded resources, improved collaborative spirit of the community and gains that we’ve made in recent months – moving our neighbors from outdoors to safe places they now call home,” Calvin said.