Tent City Residents Running Out Of Time

Tent City, Nashville circa 2009

As people around the state are helping others, it’s always good to remember everyone who lost during the floods earlier this month. Tent City residents are running out of time.

The shelters are closing and homeless advocates who want to build a new encampment aren’t having any luck finding a new site. Many Tent City residents had been staying at a Red Cross shelter at Lipscomb University, but it shut down last week.

Doug Sanders from Otter Creek Church of Christ and other church leaders pooled their resources and got about 90 residents into hotels early last week, but they can afford to pay for only one week. Others are in makeshift camps around the city.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen next. There’s nowhere for them to go,” Sanders said.

The rules for a tent city are pretty specific as the story explains.

Chris Wage at Pith in the Wind addressed several of these issues in a column earlier this month.

I am curious to see the reasons put forth as to why this isn’t an option. Let’s be honest: Metro wants Tent City to go away. Various factions of residents and property owners downtown want Tent City to go away. They’re probably really hoping this flood is going to accomplish what they’ve been trying to do for years (much like how some hoped Katrina would “fix” New Orleans). But this flood wiped out housing, not people. Nashville can hope and pray all they want that its homeless problem is just going to disappear. They can hire all the yellow-shirted segway hall-monitors they want to shoo panhandlers from place to place — but they’re not magically vanishing.

Is this the best use of what is probably the most valuable and pivotally located plot of land in downtown Nashville? No, of course not. Is the idea of Nashville’s homeless/transitional population being on display in one of the most visible locations in Nashville going to be palatable to most people? No. Will it perhaps finally force the hand of this city to deal with the issue in a responsible and proactive manner, instead of just ignoring it? Maybe. Other cities seem perfectly capable of realizing the benefits and rolling with it — isn’t it time we stepped up?

There have been a lot of organizations, churches and individuals helping out. But as the flooding period of rebirth and reconstruction begins, who will help the homeless?

The question is easy. What are we going to do with members of our community who happen to be homeless?

Where will the Tent City residents because they are running out of time.

And the answer is … ?

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1 comment for “Tent City Residents Running Out Of Time

  1. May 27, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Apparently they are trying to get them temporarily set up at some site in hickory hollow, but I don’t see how that’s viable long-term .. having trouble even seeing how it will work short-term. But, I guess it’s beter than nothing..

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