NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The lack of affordable housing units in Middle Tennessee puts human trafficking survivors in a bind, advocates and survivors said.
Making jewelry is Charletta Gupton's passion.
“It literally relaxes me," Gupton said.
She's a Thistle Farms graduate.
"I feel blessed, and I feel amazed," Gupton said.
The nonprofit helps sex trafficking survivors and women who are healing from addiction and prostitution.
"I felt like life was literally coming to an end in a sort of way. I couldn’t picture myself in a growing environment, and in an environment where I was actually thriving," Gupton said.
For two years, they're given free housing while in therapy and rehabilitation.
However, another building block was needed — affordable apartments for the transition back into the real world.
“Home is where the heart heals,” Gupton said.
That's why CEO Hal Cato said they worked out a plan to purchase half a dozen units to rent to women like Charletta.
"The only way Nashville is going to get out of this crisis is if we all lean in and do our part, so Thistle Farms is just a drop in the bucket," Cato said.
Originally, he feared survivors would fall back into their old way of life due to rising rent.
"Our next project is going to be for homeowners instead of renters, so we’re working on a new project in North Nashville to create three or four new homes."
So far, Charletta loves her new apartment.
"This is a very healing space for me," Gupton said. "I have sisters living right around me, my best friend lives right next door, and just so it’s a very supportive environment.”
Before the unit was available, she feared she was going to have to lean on her son for help.
"To choose between rent and food is not a fun place for anybody to be,” Gupton said.
With a safe place to lay her head at night, she's now taking steps to expand her jewelry business. A designer is going to help her post her jewelry for sale on Etsy. Her company is called 'Originals by Charletta.'
"I’m immensely grateful," Gupton said.