NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Nashville Fairgrounds opened as an emergency cold weather shelter on Tuesday night.
Metro is asking anyone seeking shelter to go to the Nashville Rescue Mission first as the fairgrounds will be used for overflow space and only when temperatures fall below freezing.
Temperatures overnight were expected to drop below freezing to the mid-to-low 20s.
The fairgrounds will have COVID-19 precautions in place which include social distancing and a face covering requirement.
Mike Tatar is the director of case management with Nashville Rescue Mission and helps transport dozens of people in any given night to shelter. His vans are operating under much different circumstances with the pandemic, but he says the mission hasn’t changed.
“This is an extension of what we do everyday here. We’re out offering hope for today, hope for tomorrow and hope for eternity,” Tatar said.
By 6:45 every evening, Tatar and his team drive their cold weather vans around Nashville. It’s typical to see several people loaded in one van, but not anymore. The rule is two people per van for the sake of social distancing.
Nashville Rescue Mission CEO, Glenn Cranfield hasn’t seen a difference in the number of people requesting the help. The issue for him is knowing COVID-19 has forced some into homelessness, who now aren’t sure where to turn.
“People aren’t able to find jobs, people have lost their jobs, businesses are closed and so they’re coming to the very end of their economic help,” Cranfield said.
The shelter opens from 7 p.m. Tuesday through 7 a.m. Wednesday at 500 Wedgewood Avenue. Staff are asking people to show up after 7, so they don’t have too many people waiting outside as they administer COVID-19 health checks. Pets are also welcome.
It will be in the same complex as the COVID-19 isolating shelters but Metro Social Services said the overflow shelter will be in a separate building nearby. Proper signage will be available to help direct people to the correct entrance.