NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — The mayor's office is ready to launch an $850,000 two-year program to take 20 people living in the Brookmeade encampment into a church space to work intensely on their housing plan and other support services.
The Metro Nashville government estimates that 800 people are living on the streets or in encampments in Davidson County.
When it comes to Brookmeade Park, it's estimated the homeless population living there is between 75 to 80 people.
The Mayor's Office is working closely with MHID, MNPD, and Metro Parks to secure housing for camp residents and ensure cleanliness and public safety at Brookmeade Park. With the help of our community partners, including local churches, we will be immediately launching a Mobile Housing Navigation program to help relocate those neighbors to safe housing.
Neighbors are calling on Mayor John Cooper to respond to their concerns.
Lou Wilbanks couldn't believe her eyes when she walked through the greenway at Brookmeade Park in West Nashville.
"It's bad, I mean it," said Wilbanks, " The smell, the trash, rats, drug needles everywhere. People living on the ground or in tents, and I just can't believe our city has let that happen."
Wilbanks' phone captured just snapshots of an ongoing problem. Now, the community wants to see this encampment cleaned up and removed once and for all.
"I went through there with a police officer both times. And that scares me, and I think people have a right to be afraid, and the parking area was in Walmart, have heard all the stories about people being assaulted, having their wallet stolen."
Wilbanks says the community held meetings with council members, police and the Metro Homeless Impact Division.
But they really want to hear from the mayor.
"We have not received a statement from John Cooper. He did not show up at our meeting last night, where we had three at large council members and several other council members," Wilbanks said,"Why is he not saying something to us and saying, 'hey, I care. Hey, I hear you, and I'm concerned, and I'm working on it.' Absolutely nothing."
The Metro Homeless Impact Division, Judith Tackett, says the office is working with nonprofit providers to identify every person in the encampment and offer housing navigation to everyone.
With the Mayor’s Office and Metro Council's support, the Homeless Impact Division is adding two new outreach coordinators (from 2 positions to 4) and those two will be assigned to Brookmeade and increase the housing navigation capacity at that encampment.
Metro has also created a Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund with incentives for landlords who are accepting housing vouchers (Section 8 and other housing subsidies). These incentives include paying up to $1,000 in case of damages once a tenant leaves and a rent bridge payment of up to $2,000 to hold a unit if a person leaves to fill it with another voucher holder. Metro is working on offering a sign up bonus for some of the housing vouchers.
Until the park is cleaned up , Wilbanks says they're not giving up on making Brookmeade Park a safe, clean place.
"I think, continuing to put pressure on the mayor's office, and situation is driving the momentum here, we're not backing down this time."
As for Metro Parks, staff say they too are working hard to keep Brookmeade Park clean.
Our maintenance team is in Brookmeade on a weekly basis - picking up trash, removing debris and handling any other maintenance related issue that may develop. We are coordinating with Lowes and when they complete their clean-up efforts, we will do further debris removal.
We have put up numerous signs regarding hours of operation, designated drop off-sites and so on for those wishing to donate to those experiencing homelessness – all have been destroyed.