Tennessee bill could make homeless camping a misdemeanor, concerning Nashville nonprofit

Posted at 10:40 AM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 11:40:58-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A nonprofit is concerned a new bill working its way through the legislature will greatly impact the homeless. The bill would make solicitation or camping a misdemeanor at certain spots across the state.

Open Table Nashville officials are speaking out against the bill, saying it targets Tennessee's homeless population and will make it more difficult for them to get back on their feet.

If passed, the bill would make solicitation or camping along a controlled-access highway or entrance/exit ramp a misdemeanor. Open Table Nashville says many unhoused neighbors live near these areas, like underneath bridges and next to highways and ramps.

The group says some people also work near these areas, so the bill is very concerning.

“It’s just another example of how homelessness and poverty are criminalized. We have folks who have legit jobs selling the Contributor, for example, and some of our folks do sell in highway entry and exit ramps," said India Pungarcher, recourse coordinator for Open Table Nashville. "It's gonna be a misdemeanor. It's going to go on people's records. It's going to further act as a barrier to prevent them from getting housing or getting a job in the future."

This bill hasn’t passed yet. Click here to read more information about the bill.