NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Scores of families have been displaced after Metro Police padlocked the Hallmark Inn. Now, a local organization has stepped in to help those affected find permanent housing.
The Hallmark Inn, on W. Trinity Lane, was padlocked Tuesday, after it was declared a public nuisance due to a long record of criminal activity.
Closing the location meant forcing longtime residents to search desperately for new housing. One of those displaced is a working mom of three young children.
Melissa Kelly said she was shocked when she heard a knock at her door two days ago.
“I work third shift, so by the time I laid down and went to sleep -- within an hour of me going to sleep -- there was a knock on the door that the police were here, at the Hallmark, you have an hour to get your stuff and get out,” she said.
Kelly said she was distressed to have to go through another upheaval.
“I didn't know where we were going to go, they were willing to help us pay for a week in a hotel, but that wasn't going to help me because after that week,” she said. “I was on my own.”
Her case manager worked quickly to move the Kelly family into the Sophia's Heart, a nonprofit, transitional housing program, where they had room for just two families.
“We've been homeless for two years, almost two and a half years, so I’m trying, hoping that when I leave Sophia's Heart, I'll be in my own place,” Kelly said.
Clifton Harris, the executive Director of the Sophia's Heart, said he's happy to help the family and others in her situation, but said the non-profit could use help as well.
“It is the operating support that we need to run the facility on a daily basis. [It’s a] $5 campaign… asking people to put them in their budget for $5 a month,” he said.
Sophia's House is also looking for volunteers to help teach its residents how to budget finances, be a more active parental presence and learn a working trade. Kelly said she is grateful to be there but said she has set an ever bigger goal -- to at some point, never have to move again.
“That's my goal, my number one goal, is to have stability for my kids,” she said.
Anyone who would like to help has been encouraged to visit the Sophia’s Heart website.