Federal funding allows the homeless to live at select hotels, motels amid COVID-19 pandemic

Motel for the homeless
Posted at 5:23 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 21:37:56-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Homeless people are securing one-year leases at hotels and motels in Nashville.

With fewer people traveling, and the economic downturn, hotels and motels are struggling to survive during the pandemic. In addition, public officials are trying to house the homeless to slow the spread of COVID-19. The current solution is allowing homeless people to live at local motels.

According to Mayor John Cooper’s office, the city was given $7.8-million in CARES Act Money to rapidly rehouse 400 people locally.

"I think as far as our unemployment and the economy... it’s good business," Stephanie Martin said.

Martin is homeless and wants to be in the program, or a similar one. One of the motels is located by I-24 and Harding Place. It used to be the Rodeway Inn, but was bought by an investor in December. Now, it's part of Metro's Rapid Rehousing Initiative.

Martin said there needs to be more places like it. "And the pandemic we’ve been going through for a year now, I feel like people kind of need to be more compassionate towards one another so that we can come together, and help one another as a nation," he said.

Advocates and social workers are providing services to residents who sign one-year leases.

"We have people coming in here with churches, to give them food, to give them toiletries, and helping them out as much as possible," Dusty Nunley said.

Nunley lives and works on the property. She wants to ensure neighbors that this program helps the homeless stay off the streets.

"To rehabilitate yourself, you have to have structure, we have rules here, they know there’s only so many guests, they know the rules, and they have to follow the rules, if they don’t, they have to leave," Nunley said.

Off-camera some people have expressed concerns because there has been an uptick in police calls to the property in recent weeks. However, there are discussions underway about adding security. Nunley said it's a work in progress, and they're hoping to have the community's support. "It’s a blessing for them," Nunley said.

Due to questions and concerns, Council Member Sandra Sepulveda said there will be an information session at a Metro Council meeting on Monday.