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Homelessness Commission Frequently Asked Questions

What is the goal of the Metropolitan Homelessness Commission?

The Metropolitan Homelessness Commission’s duties and responsibilities are:

  • To implement a coordinated and focused approach to ending homelessness and to develop measurable objectives;
  • To assure participation of all stakeholders including homeless persons;
  • To maintain accurate, current data on homeless populations; and
  • To educate the public, service providers and other interested parties on issues related to homelessness.

Our staff provides planning and coordination services to partner agencies that collaborate on moving people from the streets and shelters into housing.

Can Nashville end homelessness?

The Metropolitan Homelessness Commission believes that homelessness can be solved if we, as a community:

  • Work together;
  • Target the resources we already have;
  • Monitor our progress and become more data-driven; and
  • Search for more resources using data.

The Commission is focused on ending chronic homelessness in Nashville within this decade. But it takes the entire community – government, nonprofits, businesses, faith-based congregations, and neighborhoods – to work together.

How does the Commission intend to tackle homelessness?

The Metropolitan Homelessness Commission has launched a community campaign called How’s Nashville, which is driven by our community partners. The Commission is the backbone organization of How’s Nashville lending its expertise in planning and coordination. How’s Nashville is a part of the national 100,000 Homes Campaign, which believes in four principles:

How's Nashville was officially launched in June 2013. After its first year, the campaign has shown significant impact on local housing placement rates. By June 2014, more than 550 chronically homeless individuals and families moved into permanent housing community-wide. That number more than doubled our community's previous housing rate for chronically homeless people. The efforts put forth by our How's Nashville community partners increased the overall efforts of housing people who have experienced long-term homelessness and are among the most vulnerable of our neighbors. Follow the How's Nashville campaign progress.

What is Housing First?

While the How's Nashville campaign does not follow a true Housing First model, the goal is to include as many key principles of the Housing First model into our approach of providing permanent supportive housing.

The Housing First model was developed by Dr. Sam Tsemberis of Pathways to Housing in the 1990s. The concept is simple: offer a person housing first, then connect the housed person with supportive treatment services. Housing First is focused on a harm reduction approach and while it is encouraged, a true Housing First model does not demand a sobriety as a condition for housing. "The bottom line is that it is just too difficult to battle addiction, take care of serious physical and mental health conditions or find steady employment while simultaneously battling homelessness." - 100,000 Homes Campaign.

Over the past decade, multiple studies have shown that an immediate connection to permanent supportive housing helps ensure that more than 80% of formerly homeless individuals remain housed after two years. This housing retention rate compares to a rate of 25% of people who did not receive support services who are still housed after two years.

How many people are homeless nationwide?

The latest Point-In-Time (PIT) count, which larger cities conduct at the end of January each year, shows that more than 610,000 people were homeless in the United States in 2013. The PIT counts people who stay in shelter on the night of the count and people who are found sleeping outdoors.

How many people are homeless in my community?

Nashville’s Point-In-Time (PIT) count in 2014 showed that 2,094 individuals stayed in shelters and 207 slept outdoors that night.

Service providers believe there are possibly anywhere from 2,000-4,000 homeless individuals on any given night if we consider people staying in motels, sleeping in abandoned buildings and in cars, doubling up with family or friends, and are simply not found during the night of the count.

Why are people homeless?

The main reasons for homelessness are a lack of affordable housing and a person’s inability to earn enough income to pay for housing (poverty).

Other contributing factors of homelessness include mental health issues, unemployment, substance use issues, domestic violence, a lack of a social support system, disabilities, divorce, medical bills, and more.

How can I get help if I am homeless or about to be homeless?

An online resource directory, called Where to Turn in Nashville has been made available by The Contributor, Nashville's independent street paper.

Information and Referral Requests

  • 2-1-1
  • Metro Social Services (during office hours 8am-4:30pm): 615-862-6432

Emergency Numbers

  • Ambulance, Police, and Fire: 9-1-1
  • Nashville Police (Non-Emergency): 615-862-8600
  • Adult Crisis, Statewide: 855-274-7471
  • Nashville Mobile Crisis: 615-726-0125
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673
  • YWCA Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-334-4628
  • Alcoholics Anonymous Helpline: 800-711-6375
  • Narcotics Anonymous Helpline: 800-677-1462
  • Poison Control Center: 800-222-1222