NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As Metro Nashville promises to get more homeless into housing this year, non-profits want more emphasis on adding section 8 housing.
Many of Nashville's homeless population are looking to get out of the elements. However, there aren't enough living units to cover the available vouchers. So, even though a person may be approved for the housing, it could take many months or even over a year to get in an apartment.
"I think landlord cultivation is the key," said April Calvin, Director of Social Services for Nashville's Salvation Army. "A lot of housing developments are closing down around us."
Liz Mallard is an example. She was approved for the voucher back in December, but just moved into a two-bedroom apartment on Tuesday. She said she's just glad to have a roof over her head.
"I think I took a couple showers the first night to tell you the truth," said Ballard.
Her story is reflective of a lot of what's seen on the street. Job loss kicked off a series of events that eventually lead to alcoholism. Ballard said she was also diagnosed bipolar. She went to MTSU, but found herself on the street for years.
"I have moved around," said Ballard. "I've slept in alleys before. Brookmeade Park is where I was most of the time here in Nashville. And the experience out there, it was difficult. Not being able to shower every day. Losing all of your stuff, just being able to lock my door these days is incredible. The environment is so depressing and you get so by yourself and alone."
Brookmead Park is a greenway in West Nashville. There are an estimated 80 homeless people living there. Ballard said it was difficult, but her transformation has been substantial. She's eight months sober and plans to return to work, potentially at the Salvation Army.
"I want to give back. So, I'll be volunteering as much as I can. And it just it gives you a sense of hope to stay clean and you get to do your dishes. I get excited about them," said Ballard.
Metro government sent out a statement about how the city plans to use more funds to encourage people to get into housing and out-of-area camps. According to the news release, the city has placed 452 people in housing since October.
The barrier is still trying to get landlords to accept section 8 vouchers. The city has incentive programs and will even pay two months between voucher tenant leases. The city has additional funding due to the American Rescue Plan.
Ballard said she is grateful for the housing she received. However, she has little furniture and could use a TV stand, TV or washer and dryer.