Homeless Nashville

How do you describe being homeless? Growing up in a middle class family, doing all the right things. Then one day, you are on the street.What Happens now?

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Location: Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Now that I am no longer homeless, I still hope to help others. There are a few who truly want off the streets, out of the soup lines. Back to a "normal" way of living. Everyone who is homeless isn't a bum, nor a criminal. There are those that just need a chance. My first day as a homeless person was April 1st, 1997. From then on its been an unreal experience. Not one I would suggest anyone go thru, but one I know I have learned from. I hope in some way this blog helps you, the reader know a little about me. But more important , I hope it helps you understand a little more about homeless people in general.

1.14.2005

To Mayor Purcell

To Nashville Mayor Purcell,
I have read with a great deal of personal interest, your plan to end
homelessness in Nashville in 10 years. I commend you for the thought.
Let me first say that I believe that homelessness is a social issue,
much more than a issue for the government. This coming from a 50
something homeless man. You plan has merits, but is the best use of
taxpayer monies being utilized? And when you are gone from the Mayors
office will this continue or be shoved under a bureaucratic rug?
The high points of your plan as stated in the Tennessean were.
1.Construct homeless shelters and affordable housing.
2.Improve health-care services
3.Create a street outreach team to help the homeless access the
services available
and make sure those released from hospitals and jails connect with
services they need.
4.Develop job training and employment programs for homeless people who
can work.Provide access to financial assistance to those who can't
work.

All commendable points Mr. Mayor. Let's first discuss the homeless population.
The task force you sent to the streets found 1800 homeless in shelters
and on the streets. Well I wasn't counted and since your survey I have
found over 50 others that weren't counted as well. How about, just for
round numbers we say 2000. I think thats a low number but for this
purpose I will use it.
Now lets break that number down .
The US Conference of Mayors survey found that :

8 percent are families
79 percent men,
13 percent women
1 percent youth

To further break the population down from the same survey:

11 percent are mentally ill
15 percent substance abusers
12 percent are employed
13 percent are veterans

of the families
90 percent are single-parent families
50 percent are family members who are children.

Lets then factor in our population to these numbers.
On the streets of Nashville we have :
220 persons who are mentally ill. Unable to care for themselves.
300 are substance abusers.
240 are employed
260 are veterans of our military
160 are within some type of family structure

Assuming that the percentages hold true , we have about 1400 people
needing housing, training and a job that pays a living wage.
(220 mentally ill, 300 substance abusers who would need to complete
and abuse program before anything else , and 80 children. would add up
to 600, subtracting those 600 from our original 2000 leaves 1400. 240
are employed but apparently not making a wage that will allow them to
get off the streets)
Ok so we have 1400 people needing jobs , a place to stay,
transportation, food, clothing, etc. How can we get the most bang for
the taxpayer buck?
Build more housing? I have to be honest with you Mayor, not many
would want to live in the housing projects Nashville has now. Would
you? Granted a person in my present state shouldn't be picky, but
thats why I am not at the Nashville Mission. Where I live is safe,
relatively private, clean. Yes I am homeless, but I don't live in
filth. What would be needed would be short term housing. What do you
use when you go out of town, for short term housing for you and your
family. A hotel. There are a few in this area that are closed. Perfect
to be re-habed into homes for singles and families, with small
kitchens.
Granted they would have to be fenced, with security, and with some
rules as well.
But you would thin out a few of that 1400 along the way with rules.
Education. Nashville State would be would be a great place for
homeless to be educated or retrained.The Campus for Human development
is available for GED training. I would suggest onsite at the housing
units, an educational building be built, with computers, books and
educational materials to help people move back into the everyday
working world, educators to help with the training .(transitional
meetings and classes)
Transportation. Bus service while within the program,. but some help
after, to find a vehicle . Every decent job isn't on the bus lines.
Health care. Everyone, including homeless, needs quality healthcare. I
know its an issue for everyone. more on this later.
Assistance with services. There will be many different offices
involved in this, but the homeless aren't able to travel all over
Metro to access them. One office, one stop.
Mr. Mayor, have you thought about the increase of the homeless
population when word gets out about this? You may need to factor this
in. Room in the Inn brings an influx every fall to Nashville, this
would too.
Rules. There needs to be some practicality brought to this. You won't
get every homeless person to buy into this. Some are looking for that
free ride.
Put some rules on it.
1.No alcohol or drug use.(HEALTH CARE)
2. No tobacco use( HEALTH CARE)
3. Grades must be maintained at a c or above level.
4. Attendance to transitional meetings and classes is mandatory

and so on.

Instead of starting in two years, Mr. Mayor this could be done in 6 months.
In place, running and proving itself before you leave office.
Its not perfect, but its a viable plan that gets the show on the road.

Whats the main thing that can be done?
The general public looks at a homeless person as
Dirty
Lazy(panhandling)
uneducated
criminal
generally worthless

Bad as I hate to say, in some cases they are right. But in many more
they are totally wrong. If yours or any plan is to work, the general
public needs educated as well. For they are the ones who will be
hiring FORMER homeless. Renting to FORMER homeless. Providing
banking and other services to FORMER homeless.
Those FORMER homeless don't need to carry an incorrect stigma into
these relations.

--
Homeless Nashville
http://homelessnashville.blogspot.com
Nashville, Tennessee,USA

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