Neighbors concerned after uptick in police calls to motel for the unhoused

Posted at 5:41 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 11:01:51-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Nashville motel is being rented out to people experiencing homelessness, and some neighbors are concerned because there's been an uptick in 911 calls from the property.

At the former Rodeway Inn on Wallace Road, people who are unhoused can sign a lease that's paid for by federal CARES Act money. During a pandemic, it gets people off the streets, and they told NewsChannel5’s Alexandra Koehn it’s a huge help.

However, Jeff Sexton said the Rapid Rehousing Initiative caught the community by surprise. "To move in over a hundred individuals to a facility was a very large undertaking," Sexton said. He found out about the program due to the influx of police calls here. "This was a move in first initiative, this was done under the radar completely,” Sexton said.

There's been roughly 130 calls to police from the motel in the last 6 weeks compared to roughly a dozen this time last year. Some of the calls are listed as kidnapping, assault, or suicidal subject. Sexton said, "Metro Nashville Police are already challenged and the south precinct is the busiest precinct in all of metro."

Sources said they can't disclose the locations or information on the new program due to federal privacy laws. "The lack of transparency that we have seen with this facility, the no-planning involved, does not set them up, or execute a long-term success," Sexton said.

According to the MDHA, $7.8 million in grant money has been awarded to nonprofits to house a minimum of 400 individuals and families. 226 individuals and families have already been served.

Editors Note: In our original story, seen in the video above, Heather Dillashaw stated that the grant was for $10 million. After this story aired, MDHA reached out to dispute the 10 million dollar figure provided to us by Dillashaw, saying the grant was only $7.8 million dollars.

The goal is to put 400 to 450 people in the program according to Dillashaw. This information was disclosed in Metro's Affordable Housing meeting on Monday night. "To be eligible for these funds you have to be homeless, that’s the eligibility criteria," Dillashaw said.

Dillashaw is a homeless services specialist for ICF and works on behalf of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. To address concerns, she said the property manager will have security on site soon, "And that process is ongoing," Dillashaw said.

Meanwhile, Sexton is still upset with how this was handled as he wants what's best for people experiencing homelessness. "If you’re going to leave out the community and not make them a part of it, I don’t think that you’re going to set yourself up for long-term success," Sexton said.

Each person who signs a lease at the motel is assigned a case manager. When the federal money runs out, the goal is for them to hopefully find a permanent home and a job.