NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – When more spots opened in an affordable housing complex in Nashville, there was a rush of people experiencing homelessness and advocates trying to get on it as soon as possible.

The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) has a first-come, first-served system for getting into an open room. This means the quicker someone applies, the more likely they are to get a call that could lead to getting an affordable place to live.

Therefore, when spots opened up for the J. Henry Hale Apartments at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Open Table Nashville was already set up at a table with documents and spreadsheets ready to try and get some of the people they work with on the list.

“The average that we have seen is about two years to get off the list, get that second application and move into a place,” said Open Table Nashville Outreach Coordinator Claire Hennigan.

Hennigan said application openings that are open to a wide range of people experiencing homelessness aren’t common considering the need. She said, this time around, Jocie Arnett was one of her top priorities.

Arnett is on about six waitlists at the moment, but since waitlists get purged every 18-24 months, so Hennigan says it’s possible they have tried to put Arnett on at least 10.

Arnett has been living out of her car and a tent near the highway for about nine months after a series of traumatic life events. She says getting into one of these affordable homes would mean more than shelter and protection from the cold this winter.

“It would mean everything to me because if I get into one of the affordable housing facilities then I can get my life back together a little bit quicker so I can go home to my kids,” she said.

Arnett says she knows she needs to continue to work on herself and find employment before she can start a new chapter in life, and she worries the longer she stays in her current situation, the harder it will be for her to get out of it.

“The experience out here has not been the best; It could’ve been a lot worse,” she said.

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A spokesperson for the Metro Housing Authority says she recommends people be proactive about getting on these waitlists and that her team is working on posting a new waitlist once a month.

“If I am with somebody I will say, ‘be hitting the refresh button on our website at 11:59 a.m., so as soon as that waiting list opens you are in there and applying for that waiting list,'” said MDHA Director of Communications Jamie Berry.

Berry said MDHA serves about 30,000 people in Nashville between their 6,500 units and Section 8 vouchers but says there is a need for more affordable housing options to quickly help more people like Arnett.

“There is a need for more affordable housing and we redeveloping one of our properties, we created 50 new units with the help of many partners, including Metro, earlier this year. We are going to continue to find opportunities and ways to create affordable housing in Nashville,” Berry said.

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Arnett says in the meantime with a car to sleep in and a tent she is lucky and will keep working on herself so that when her call finally comes, she is ready to bring her whole self to a new home.