NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Nashville Rescue Mission is reporting an increase in need from the homeless community, even though the total number of homeless in the city is unclear.
Circumstantial evidence shows an increase in homeless camps around the city, according to Rescue Mission CEO Glenn Cranfield. The need at the mission has increased about 5%. While that doesn't sound like much, two additional shelters have been opened to accommodate the homeless during the pandemic.
"We're serving more people. Certainly because of COVID-19 and the other economic impact that it has on the community. We're seeing an increase in homelessness," said Cranfield. "Thankfully we're using the fairgrounds for the men as an overflow as well the municipal auditorium for the women."
The Rescue Mission's annual count of the homeless will happen sometime in the next month. However, Cranfield reports the homeless population seems to have grown in camps across the city.
"We're seeing a subjective and circumstantial evidentiary increase in homelessness," said Cranfield. "That's why it's important for us to do the point in time count. So, we can actually put verifiable numbers to what we think we're seeing. And so, we're looking forward to getting those numbers really soon."
Cranfield also said he's noticing more of the homeless he's coming in contact with are newly homeless. They're people who lost jobs due to the pandemic.
"There's some people that haven't worked since March," he said. "So, without that steady income coming in they find themselves in a situation needing help and they utilize the help from their church and friends and neighbors. After that comes to an end then they find themselves in the need of the services they provide."
The head of Metro's Homelessness Commission, Judith Tackett, said there's no data yet to support the overall numbers have increased. Metro has one point in time count of the homeless that happens in the first few days of January.