The licensing of homeless shelters is a good idea. It is happening in other cities. There’s no good reason why the city of Nashville shouldn’t regulate its shelters as well.
I can think of two very good reasons, right off the bat, as to why the homeless shelters in Nashville should be required to get city approval to operate by way of a license through metro or state codes. First, the city should assure that all homeless people are treated with a modicum of respect and dignity, being that such is a necessity in every homeless person’s recovery. And Second, those people who wish to open a shelter for the homeless should have that right, so long as they meet certain minimum requirements and standards as set forth by the city or state.
There are shelters in Nashville whose practices are questionable at best. They are run by professional non-profit profiteers. These profiteers create an official 501 (c) 3 program, allowing people to donate money to them. They then pocket most of the money for themselves, all while providing a bare minimum of services to the homeless. And there are some shelters that purposely refuse funding from any government source, solely for the fact that they can then avoid any government oversite and accountability. With making it a requirement that all shelters be licensed, every shelter will have to answer for how they run their shelters. If hospitals and nursing homes and mental health facilities are required to be licensed, then certainly homeless shelters should be licensed too.
There are many people, many organizations that would like to be of help to the homeless but are unable to provide them with shelter, because current codes presents too many obstacles. The laws tell them what they can’t do, but does not provide any information of what they can do. With a licensing procedure in place, these groups could access the qualifications before getting started, and they will know at what point they will meet government approval. And once they have gained approval, they can focus on their work for the homeless without worrying about being constantly harassed by city officials.
Homelessness can no longer be swept under the rug. It’s time that our communities deal with the issue in a forthright manner.. It’s time for all of us to work towards ending homelessness, instead of just hiding it, or hiding from it.