Shelters look to give options to the unhoused during dangerous cold

Posted at 7:15 PM, Dec 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-22 20:53:59-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — This dangerous cold is on the minds of people who work with the unhoused.

Without shelter, the plummeting temps will be life-threatening. The Metro overflow shelter opened at 3230 Brick Church Pike on Thursday night. The Nashville Rescue Mission and Room In The Inn are taking in people from the cold.

Adam Walker is hoping for a day he can publish children's books and perhaps illustrate them. He said he's living through hard days first. He's lived without a home for two months.

"I'm working on getting my own place," Adam said.

In those two months, Adam's seen a lot of good — like Jordan Sluder and his daughter, just giving out things to help others stay warm.

"I'm very grateful for it," said one woman, watching Jordan hand out blankets and socks. "We all are going through a little struggle out here. We're in need for this."

Adam's seen other things that bring him a lot of concern. He fears some people living with mental illness and the elderly might not have shelter from this dangerous cold.

"I'm really worried about them," he said. "They are so used to and set in their ways, so you can't get them out from under a bridge to come to the winter program. They're the ones that can't get where they need to go and then they don't have the resources available for them."

"If you're unhoused, if you're exposed to the elements, I don't know how people are going to survive that," said Melanie Ober with Room In The Inn.

She said Room In The Inn does year-round work, trying to gain the trust of people in the community in preparation for intensely cold nights.

"The people we serve, it is a challenge sometimes for them to co-exist with society," Melanie continued. "There's barriers they face from a mental health standpoint, just from the trauma they've faced on the streets."

Since the start of the pandemic, Room In The Inn's been working to rebuild the number of churches they partner with to house groups of people on cold nights.

"We have over 100 congregations who are partnering with us right now, and we're averaging about a hundred beds a night," Melanie said. "Every bed and resource, we're trying to maximize right now."

The Room In The Inn is looking for more congregations to join them in providing shelter.

For people like Melanie and Adam, the goal is to tell people living without homes their options to get inside somewhere.

"There is the emergency overflow shelter on Brick Church Pike," Melanie said. "There's the Rescue Mission. There's Room in the Inn."

Also, Melanie recommends to call Metro's non-emergency number if you see someone living without a home who's at risk in this dangerous cold.

As for Adam, he said what he's doing in the coming days is the beginning of his plan to change his life.

"I just started a new job and it's really, really warm in that kitchen," he smiled.

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