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New Partnership between Homelessness Commission and MDHA

7/22/2013

A new collaboration between the Metropolitan Homelessness Commission and the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) will create over 200 housing opportunities for vulnerable and chronically homeless people. 

MDHA created a local preference for vulnerable people experiencing chronic homelessness and plans to set aside 18 Housing Choice Vouchers each month to assist a new community campaign called How’s Nashville with its goal to end chronic homelessness in our community within four years. While the waiting list for the Voucher program is normally closed throughout most of the year, MDHA will be accepting applications each month from people identified by the Homelessness Commission as being chronically homeless and vulnerable.

Norman Deep, MDHA’s Director of Rental Assistance, said that MDHA issued the first nine Housing Choice Vouchers under this new program last week.

“MDHA is the largest provider of affordable housing in our city, and we recognize the current momentum in our community around moving chronically homeless people from the streets into housing as quickly as possible,” Jim Thiltgen, MDHA’s interim executive director, said. “The federal government allows local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to prioritize these vital resources to the most vulnerable, so we took this opportunity for collaboration, which we believe will benefit the entire community. 

“In addition, we are proposing to HUD that we use Community Development Block Grant funds  to assist these homeless applicants with application fees, deposits, and other expenses to expedite their move-ins,” Thiltgen said.

Will Connelly, director of the Metropolitan Homelessness Commission, said officials from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are paying close attention to this new demonstration project.

“HUD provides guidance to cities that want to prioritize these vouchers and shift away from a first-come-first-serve approach,” Connelly said. “Our partnership with MDHA is critical. It is a big piece in the puzzle to ending chronic homelessness in Nashville.”

How’s Nashville partners set a goal in early June to house 200 people in 100 days. Nashville, as a community, reached its goal for last month and housed 43 people who had been chronically homeless.

“We’d like to move 76 people into a new home in July,” Connelly said, adding this was a big challenge. “Even if we fall a little short, I am sure that by the middle of September our community’s housing placement rate will have increased. With the start we’ve had, I believe that Nashville has good chance to end chronic homelessness in the next four years.”

MDHA was one of the earliest partners to join the How’s Nashville effort, a local campaign launched by the Metropolitan Homelessness Commission in June. The goal of How’s Nashville partners is to end chronic homelessness in four years. How’s Nashville is a part of the national 100,000 Homes Campaign, a national movement to house 100,000 chronically homeless and vulnerable people by July 2014.

Local How’s Nashville partners include Open Table Nashville, Mental Health Cooperative, Park Center, the local VA, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA), Nashville Cares, Room In The Inn, the Nashville Rescue Mission, Colby’s Army, United Neighborhood Health Services, Metro Social Services, Centerstone, Eckman/Freeman, Nashville Downtown Partnership, United Neighborhood Health Services, First Management Services, and more.