Group says Nashville needs more 'transition' centers to 'reclaim Brookmeade Park'

Posted at 7:04 PM, Oct 28, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Reclaim Brookmeade Park says “pods” may be the answer for helping the houseless transition out of the park encampment.

Rebecca Lowe, who founded the group that's been around since April, says whatever the city is doing, it’s not enough.

"We just want to get behind it before it becomes another Austin, Seattle, or Los Angeles," Lowe said.

They organized outside the encampment near the Walmart parking lot to promote the idea they say is proven to work.

Lowe borrowed the concept of building these pods and arranging them in a transition center, from different communities around the country.

The pods come with locking doors, windows, and even air conditioning. With the money Metro has shown they’re willing to spend, Lowe says it shouldn’t be too much trouble to reinvest into creating these centers on Metro-owned land.

Not only will it help make the park a safer place, but Lowe says she's convinced the people living in the park to want a change as well.

“Mayor Cooper claims he comes here once a month. If he did, I can’t imagine he would let this continue. If you’ve ever been inside the park, you realize that it is absolutely heartbreaking,” Lowe said.

Metro officials say they’re committed to restoring the park to a place where everyone can feel comfortable. They organized a community cleanup this summer where they collected four dumpsters worth of litter. Another community cleanup is scheduled for November 8.

Mayor John Cooper also committed $850,000 to create Mobile Housing Navigation Centers. The program began Wednesday and will transition 20 people at a time to Bellevue United Methodist Church. There they get help developing a long-term housing plan.

Lowe says for a problem that shows no signs of slowing down, we need more solutions.

“It’s definitely getting worse and worse. We’re not doing anything to slow it down at the moment. What they need to do is start looking at different options, because what they’re doing isn’t working,” Lowe said.

One such solution has been the Rapid Rehousing Initiative which combines the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency with Metro Nashville. By using federal money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city has placed 550 people so far this year.

They’re now calling on local property owners to join the city’s Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund. Those who accept, are given vouchers to pay for up to $1,000 in property damage protection and $2,000 for missed rent payments by tenants.

It's estimated that there are more than 800 people living in the streets or in encampments across Davidson County. About 80 of those people live in the Brookmeade Park encampment.