Nashville homeless population numbers see decline in latest count

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Posted at 10:01 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 23:14:53-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The number of homeless people in Nashville has been on a downward trend over the last five years, according to a point-in-time count that was released Tuesday.

The Metro Development and Housing Agency completed the count in late January. The numbers show that 1,916 peoplewere experiencing homelessness in Nashville, a 5% decrease since 2020. No count happened in 2021 because of COVID-19.

Vicky Batcher, a member of the Homeless Planning Council, says her life-experiences make her skeptical when it comes to believe there are only roughly 2,000 people who are homeless in Nashville as the count suggests.

"They didn't contact us when we were living in the back of a church. So there are people out there who are missed. I think adding 500 to 1,000 to that count is more accurate," she said

On any given day you can find Batcher writing and blogging. The story she shares is personal. It details the life of a homeless family living in Music City.

"I thought my lived experience could help somebody else, could help finally maybe end this thing you know. We can end homelessness. We know how to do it," Batcher said.

Since 2017, annual counts show a downward trend in homelessness. Metro Social Services said this is a result of federal funding, increased collaboration with community partners, and more housing support for those most vulnerable.

The count does have limitations and it's something the city also acknowledges. Still Batcher thinks there has been progress, but would like to see the point-in-time count happen more than once a year to reflect a truer picture of homelessness in Nashville.

"I do think they're doing a great job, but we need to make up for lost time," she said.

Batcher said she hopes her story encourages those going through a hard time to keep fighting.

"Affordable housing has made it so that I can pay my rent every single month on time and in full. It's awesome. And to be able to do that for the first time in almost my adult life, it's great," she said.

Key findings of the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency's report include:

  • 71% of the adult population experiencing homelessness on the night of the count were men
  • 42% of the adult population experiencing homelessness on the night of the count were Black or African American
  • 82% of unsheltered individuals said that lack of income was their primary barrier to finding housing
  • 52% of unsheltered people surveyed are experiencing chronic homelessness
  • 39% of unsheltered individuals reported problems with substance abuse
  • 48% of unsheltered individuals reported mental health problems
  • 12% of unsheltered individuals reported being survivors of interpersonal violence