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Nashville Homeless Struggle To Find Shelter While Waiting For Housing

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Photo: Video by NewsChannel5.com

Nashville Homeless Struggle To Find Shelter While Waiting For Housing

CREATED May 16, 2014
by Todd Walker

NASHVILLE, Tenn - Nearly 7,000 adults and children will spend the night in Davidson County without a permanent roof over their heads.

Some have managed to carve out places to live in so-called tent cities. Many have been trying to find affordable housing, but the waiting list is long.

Four men took what used to be a dump site along the Cumberland River, cleaned it up and made it into a campsite, well off the beaten path.

Advocates for these homeless men said police came to the site a month ago and said they needed to get out and were trespassing.

The men and those advocates asked for time because they were in the process of getting assistance for housing.

They said Metro Police gave them a month. Friday was the end of that month.

Friday morning, the men and representatives from multiple agencies were under the impression police were going to come in and raid the camp.

Advocates said the guys are right on the edge of getting back on their feet, and being told to get out would likely be a major setback.

There are an estimated 4,000 homeless adults in Nashville and there are only 1,700 beds in shelter space.

Lindsey Krinks with Open Table Nashville said it's just a small snapshot of the homelessness problem in Nashville.

One of the men living in the camp goes by "Papa Smurf." It's a name he said his daughters gave him years ago.

"I hate waking up broke every morning," he said. "But sometimes you have to. But here, I can wake up with a couple dollars in my pocket and survive the next day."

Smurf said he's a carpenter and works jobs when he can. He said that's how he ended up in Nashville, for work. That work dried up and he fell on hard times.

Krinks said homeless are often treated more as a nuisance than a social problem in the eyes of the city and law enforcement.

"If we want to fund a convention center our city comes up with a way to do that," she said. "If we want to fund a ball stadium we do. But when we talk about housing and support services it's like pulling teeth."

Police said this deadline of May 16 came after an assault was reported in the camp.

Metro Police said there is no impending raid and they're willing to work with homeless advocates as long as the camp stays non-violent.

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