NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The highest number of homeless deaths was recorded in 2017 in Nashville by a local non-profit.
People have walked by a memorial bench in downtown every day, but few people have known the story behind it.
"Tara was unhoused, and she had extreme mental health issues," said Lindsey Krinks. "She would sleep over by the river right here, and one night, a couple guys were just partying and came downtown and they decided to push her into the river. They rolled her into the river. It was a really cold night."
Tara Cole lost her life that day. A bench was donated in her memory to Riverfront Park.
Her story was one of the reasons why Krinks co-founded a non-profit to help the homeless.
"I knew several of my friends that were beaten or stabbed from violent incidences," Krinks said. "Some people were hit by cars. The housing crisis is pushing people from safer places to the streets, and the streets area living hell. The streets are death."
According to the non-profit's records, 2017 has been the deadliest year for the homeless community in Nashville.
They have recorded deaths for the past ten years through numbers they received from the coroner and social services.
"So 118 of the people we lost this year, most of those deaths were preventable," Krinks said.
Krinks added some of the homeless people died of heat stroke or exposure to the cold.
"I have a friend on here who lost both of his legs to frostbite," Krinks said.
Now, they're fighting for justice for those whose fight is over.
"We need more affordable housing," Krinks said. "We know that housing saves lives in Nashville. We know that healthcare, affordable healthcare, improves access so people don't die well before their time."
On Saturday, over a hundred people gathered to remember the lives lost and look forward to a brighter future for the homeless community.
"We have people living in incredible wealth right behind us and people living in incredible poverty right on either side of this Riverfront area, and we've got to do better as a city," Krinks said. "So whatever you can do to not just make this a memorial, but also make it a rallying cry for housing."
Open Table Nashville is a non-profit that is working to find locations to build affordable housing for the homeless. If you think you could help them find locations to build these homes, you can visit here for more information.