I drive and walk past homeless veterans and homeless families every day. The causes of homelessness are so diverse and the solutions are so complex. There’s no hiding that our local statistics are discouraging and help is needed. But we will not lose hope.
The Nashville Study of Homelessness
The Nashville Study of Homelessness addresses many of these complex issues and shows we really need an update to meet the uniquenesses of our inspirational city.
With all the hard work and dedication of staff and board members at the Nashville Rescue Mission, it can be disheartening that people are now staying homeless longer and the number of people living outside has doubled in Nashville since 2013.
Mayor John Cooper and his team are actively working on an update to the current plan as a response to the study. I fully support and want to help with this update as much as possible.
Chronic homelessness represents people who have been without housing for extended periods of time. One of the issues with Nashville’s current system is a “first-come-first-served,” issuance of assistance that actually penalizes the chronically homeless and keeps them on the streets even longer. We do not have the same level of chronic homelessness that many major cities do, but Mayor Cooper says, “this has absolutely gone under-addressed for too long.” I couldn’t agree more.
There are several recommendations made in this report, which I have seen be successful in other urban areas across the country. One of them is a stand-alone city office, which was unanimously approved by the Metro council last week! This will streamline communication and data city-wide. Often, a slow response to a crisis is caused by misrepresentation of data or a clogged communication channel. With a dedicated office, we will see a big improvement in how our city serves the homeless population.
Nashville Rescue Mission Approach
At the Nashville Rescue Mission I am passionate about sharing the love of God with the homeless and hurting. We aim to walk alongside each person to foster hope. Then we equip each individual to build towards a positive path forward.
The homelessness approach being taken by the leadership of our state and city, like most things in life, needs continual refinement. As we learn from global leaders, we in turn will need to update our approach for people who are experiencing homelessness.
We will continue to link arms with local law enforcement, local government and glean from organizations across the country and around the world who have modeled success. Our team members continue to learn solutions for homelessness by discovering best practices of leaders and organizations that help people experiencing homelessness around the world.
We have great hope and vision for the future of Music City’s parks, streets and freeway underpasses.
I am optimistic we can move forward in a healthy and positive direction with the help of Mayor Cooper, his teams and love for every resident of the greater Nashville area.
We are fiercely focused on the situation, and appreciate your care, prayer and concern to serve all people with hope, love and dignity.
If you would like to help please visit www.nashvillerescuemission.org and select: “Get Involved”