An ordinance establishing a Homelessness Commission.

Whereas, homelessness has been identified as a critical issue in Nashville, with approximately 1805 persons being counted in the March, 2004 Homeless Count, 447 of whom were found in outdoor locations not meant for human habitation; and

Whereas, 42% of the 1,358 individuals reported by shelters during the Count were estimated to meet the HUD definition of chronically homeless: "an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or more or has had at least four (4) episodes of homelessness in the past three (3) years;" and

Whereas, the Interagency Council on Homelessness at the federal level has initiated an effort in cities and states across the nation to develop 10 year plans to end chronic homelessness and the Mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County has appointed a task force to develop such a plan for Nashville; and

Whereas, the task force's "Strategic Plan to End Chronic Homelessness in Nashville 2005 - 2015" has been approved by the Mayor and calls for a commission to be established to direct and oversee implementation of the plan.

Now, therefore, be it enacted by the Council of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County:

Section 1. A Homelessness Commission is hereby established for Nashville and Davidson County, to be a part of Metropolitan Department of Social Services and to be composed of the following members:

(a) Eleven persons appointed by the Mayor, who shall serve without compensation, and who shall serve for terms of three years, except that, of the members first appointed, three shall serve for a term of one year, four shall serve for a term of two years, and four shall serve for a term of three years. The commission shall include a member of the Social Services Commission. Each class of the commission shall include one member who has personally experienced homelessness, ensuring that at all times there will be three members representing the homeless community. Notwithstanding any language to the contrary, any member serving on the commission who is homeless while serving may receive bus passes to attend commission activities and compensation in accordance with a reimbursement plan adopted by the commission.

(b) Any member appointed by the Mayor who fails to attend three consecutive meetings may be excused from serving on the commission upon a majority vote of the commission. If such an opening occurs, it shall be filled in the same manner as any other appointment.

(c) Four members of the Metropolitan Council, one of whom shall be a member of the Health, Hospitals and Social Services Committee (or its successor Committee) and selected by that Committee, one of whom shall be a member of the Budget and Finance Committee (or its successor Committee) and selected by that Committee, and two of whom shall be the Vice Mayor and/or his/her designee(s). Such council members selected shall serve for a term not to exceed two years, which terms shall begin within sixty days after Council elections, and sixty days after the middle of the councilmanic term;

(d) Seven officials of the Metropolitan government, serving as nonvoting ex officio members, representing related departments, as follows:

1. The Mayor or the Mayor's designee;
2. The director of the Social Services Department or the director's designee;
3. The director of Metro Development and Housing Agency or the director's designee;
4. The director of the Health Department or the director's designee;
5. The director of Nashville Career Advancement Center or the director's designee;
6. The director of Metropolitan Action Commission or the director's designee; and
7. The chief of the Metropolitan Police Department or the chief's designee.

Section 2. The Mayor shall select a Chairperson for the Commission.

Section 3. The Homelessness Commission shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

(a) To assume accountability for implementation of the Strategic Plan to End Chronic
Homelessness in Nashville 2005-2015 (henceforth called the 10 Year Plan);

(b) To implement a coordinated and focused approach to ending chronic homelessness;

(c) To develop measurable, time-framed objectives for implementation of the 10 Year Plan, and to provide ongoing evaluation and revision of the 10 Year Plan;

(d) To assure participation of all stakeholders including homeless persons;

(e) To establish procedures to assure that policies, services and funding within the control of Metropolitan Government Departments and agencies are consistent with the 10 Year Plan. With respect to funding applications or awards specifically addressing homelessness, the Homelessness Commission shall serve as a working partner in the development, review, and approval, of all Metro supported or approved homeless grant applications, plans, and funding opportunities;

(f) To maintain accurate, current data on homeless populations;

(g) To educate the public, service providers and other interested parties on the 10 Year Plan; and

(h) To issue an annual report on the Commission's progress in meeting the goals of the 10 Year Plan.

Section 4. The Commission may create an advisory committee. Its membership shall reflect a variety of community stakeholders and perspectives. The committee shall include individuals who have personally experienced homelessness, and individuals representing business interests; the faith community; neighborhood interests; housing developers; non-profit service providers; mental health practitioners; alcohol and drug treatment programs; advocates; funders; and a large hospital.

Section 5. The Homelessness Commission is not and shall not be deemed to be a board or commission of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. The authority for this Commission shall expire ten years after the date of enactment.

Section 6. This ordinance shall take effect from and after its passage, the welfare of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsored by: Erik Cole, Diane Neighbors, Pam Murray


Introduced: April 5, 2005
Passed First Reading: April 5, 2005
Referred to: Health, Hospitals & Social Services Committee
Passed Second Reading: April 19, 2005 
Passed Third Reading: May 17, 2005 
Approved: May 19, 2005