Tent Cities On The Rise In Nashville - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Tent Cities On The Rise In Nashville

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NewsChannel 5 reporter Nick Beres talks to residents of a tent city south of downtown Nashville. NewsChannel 5 reporter Nick Beres talks to residents of a tent city south of downtown Nashville.
Homeless tent city resident Wendell Segroves Homeless tent city resident Wendell Segroves

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - You may have new neighbors and not even know about them. City officials say there has been a huge surge in the number of tent cities in and around Nashville.

Nashville was already dealing with one large tent city below the interstate bridges south of downtown. In this tough economy, Metro is now dealing with more of these homeless encampments.

It's a tough way to live, but a growing number of people hit by tough times now call tent cities their home.

"I'm seeing new faces every day. There are more people in their economy - there are more people being foreclosed on. They're getting laid off, their companies are going out of business," says Wendell Segroves. "There are more people down here and it's not going to do anything but get worse."

The tent city where Segroves lives is a mainstay in Music City just south of downtown.

The homeless have lived there for more than two decades. Metro plans to shut the camp down in June. Clifton Harris with the city's homeless commission says that won't mean the end of the makeshift neighborhoods.

"We have seen a spike of people hitting the streets. The shelters are filling up," says Harris.

There are an estimated 3,000 homeless people in Davidson County. Some of the homeless do end up on the streets or under bridges - a focus for police cracking down on loitering or vagrancy.

With police rousting the homeless, where will they go?

"To another location - to another encampment," says Harris.

Metro reports many in the homeless populations are now organized with several campsites.

For now the big tent city does remain downtown, but in the just the past year Metro reports a huge surge in the number of the encampments.

"I know of at least thirty homeless camps throughout the cities and parts of Nashville and Davidson County," says Harris. "Some [people] are out here because this is all they know."

Harris says many homeless get a community feel at the camps, and a freedom they don't find at organized shelters.

This is becoming an urgent issue for Metro. Often crime and other problems accompany the makeshift shelters. Police have been watching once camp known as an Aryan Nation tent city.

The Metro Nashville Homelessness Commission is holding a series of public hearings to discuss what to do.

Below is a list of the hearings:

Monday, Feb. 9 - 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

McCabe Community Center
101 46th Avenue
615-862-8457

Tuesday, Feb. 17 - 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Antioch Community Center

5023 Blue Hole Road

615-615-9363

Monday, Feb. 23 - 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Madison Community Center

510 Cumberland Avenue
615-862-8459

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