The Homelessness Commission in Nashville TN has asked for input from the public concerning the creation of a designated, city approved, homeless camp. I think it’s a good idea as it gives the homeless at least a modicum of stability and sanctuary away from the streets that can at times be hostile. It’s certainly not the best option, but it may be the only thing that is politically acceptable at this time.
I trust that Will Connelly and the other advocates for the homeless in Nashville have a good idea of what’s best for the homeless and so I look to them for leadership in this endeavor. Still I wrote a short note, giving my two cents, as it were, to the conversation. The following is what I wrote:
As a former resident of Nashville and chronically homeless person, I have been asked by some people to add my two cents concerning homeless camps.
Being that any camp will be limited in the number of homeless it can host at any one time, I would suggest that the camp be used to “fast track” those homeless people with the best chance of overcoming their homelessness in the shortest amount of time – something that currently isn’t currently done in Nashville (as far as I know). Use it for those people who already have a source of income, whether it be from employment or pension or government assistance (SSI SSDI etc) Focus all the city’s resources on getting these people back into housing as quickly as possible with funds designated for Housing First, and Rapid Rehousing, Section 8, VASH. And set a time limit of 90 days for the homeless to achieve this goal, thereby giving as many people as possible the opportunity to avail themselves of the camps services.
i understand there are arguments for creating shelters where the homeless can indulge in their addictions to drugs. I would like to voice my strong opposition to this idea, as it creates a very hostile and unproductive environment for the people making a sincere effort to leave homelessness. I am also very much in favor of the city of Nashville building it’s own brick and mortar homeless facility to give the homeless a safer environment in which to become stable. Hopefully as the homeless camp becomes successful, moving the program indoors will be the next step.
I am currently in a program in San Diego called PATH. Their website is ePath.org, and although it’s not perfect, it is the best program I’ve seen for moving people out of homelessness. Nashville should consider implementing their design.
Thanks for listening,