Nashville churches transform to help people in large homeless communities

Bellevue UMC
Posted at 4:24 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 21:07:01-05

BELLEVUE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Billy Inman finally found the solace he needed.

That help came in the form of two Nashville churches, which transformed part of their buildings into a temporary home for people who are experiencing homelessness.

"Friday, I'll be here a month and I've come so far in a month," Inman, 67, said. "I got told yesterday that I do have a voucher now. I have it. I have a Section 8 (voucher), so I'm ready to go."

Bellevue United Methodist Church and City Road United Methodist Church in Madison now operate as mobile housing navigation centers.

In August, Metro Council approved an $850,000 investment for these mobile housing navigation centers, which feature dormitories with staff around the clock.

Rev. Brian Marcoulier of Bellevue UMC said he was happy to take on the endeavor and see where it goes.

"I always desire the church to be a place where people feel welcomed to come as they are, but living that out comes different when it comes with jagged edges," Marcoulier said.

Community Care Fellowship leadership said they are helping to make sure people who are most vulnerable make it into the program and do not slip through the cracks.

"Sometimes just in rapid rehousing those most vulnerable are the hardest to house so they will sometimes get jumped over, not intentionally just through relationships," Ryan LaSuer said.

The goal is get temporary guests in permanent housing in 90 days, which can be tough, organizers said.

"The lack of affordable housing in Nashville has not just become a problem, but a a crisis to where now there aren't available places for folks that are on the margins and struggling already," Rev. Marcoulier said.

The city plans to open a third mobile housing navigation center at McKendree United Methodist Church on Church Street.

So far this year, the city has helped nearly 2,000 people in homeless communities.

In 2022, the Mayor John Cooper's office said construction is set to begin on a 90-unit permanent housing development for this population.