NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The number of homeless people in Nashville is increasing.
Police have also noticed a rise in crimes committed by the homeless.
About 60 percent of aggravated assaults in downtown Nashville are committed by or against the homeless, according to Metro police.
For example, one man known as Velvet said he was robbed six times in the last three months. The aspiring musician is often found on or near Second Avenue.
He said he's been robbed at knifepoint three times and beaten up and had his wheelchair turned over.
Police said the homeless are involved more than half of aggravated assaults in downtown Nashville.
Police know getting homeless people off the streets improves the tourist district and impacts crime statistics.
"It behooves the Metro Police Department to address the quality of life issues anyway that they possibly can," said Metro Lt. Nicky Swisher. "And the way that I choose to address quality of life issues is to improve the quality of life for the persons that are less fortunate that are living on the streets."
She doesn't see the homeless as "problem people," but "people with problems."
"He doesn't need to be living on the streets, and he doesn't need to be vulnerable like this. Any person, a 74-year-old living at home is vulnerable," said Swisher who works out of the department's Central Precinct.
Swisher serves as a sort of outreach officer for Metro. She also sits on the city's Homeless Commission and insists the best way to help the homeless is to help wean them back into society and to live independently.
She said getting housing for the homeless is perhaps the city's best defense.
Nashville has one less agency to help -- for now. The Homeless Power Project is temporarily shut down. A sign on the office door indicates that the agency is closed due to restructuring though Power Project leaders declined to comment further.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 2:24 PM EDT2013-06-19 18:24:42 GMT
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