COVID-19, tornado forces people into homelessness, Nashville nonprofits report large increase in population

Posted at 5:46 PM, Apr 10, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Homeless help groups are reporting a large spike in newly homeless people living in camps and in their cars in throughout Nashville.

According to Louie Johnston, the founder of Layman Lessons, he estimates the homeless population has already doubled in Music City and could triple by fall if nothing changes.

"The need is just skyrocketing because everyone is out of work. When you're out of work and you can't pay your rent, you're living in your cars first and then you go to the street," said Johnston.

The ministry's warehouse of food is close to being empty. There were two boxes left on Friday that Johnston knew would be gone by Saturday.

"This is basically all we have left over," he said. Johnston said another shipment comes on Tuesday.

However, the growing homeless population is struggling.

Ask Sam Brown, a long time North Nashville resident. He lost his home to the tornado. Now, he's on the edge of homelessness.

"It's been like hell man," said Brown. "[There's] nothing like it. A whole lot of people are devastated."

Brown said he hasn't seen any FEMA aid in weeks. There are some volunteers still serving food in North, but there's not many people helping with clean up.

"I've been staying in a hotel for a month. Got me a little place right now to stay in," said Brown. "It ain't my home."

Brown said he's going to miss the annual East Egg Hunt in Hadley Park. He's helped with its organization in the past and plans to hold the event for kids even if it takes two months for social distancing to end.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.