Mayor John Cooper and city leaders discussed his plan to get Nashville’s most vulnerable residents off the streets and into stable, safe environments this week. Earlier this year, Cooper proposed using $50 million from the American Rescue Plan to improve the city’s response to homelessness by bringing in additional services, additional housing, and linking the city to more sustainable federal funding.
The Metro Council is set to vote on the proposal during their Tuesday, October 4, meeting, voting on four pieces of legislation that comprise the plan. Together, they represent the tools to implement the ‘Housing First’ model, which has proven to be successful around the country.
According to a release from the Mayor’s Office, “The plan will increase housing availability, increase support services, and restore dignity to those living unhoused.”
The four pieces of legislation include the following:
RS2022-1696: $25M for the Metro Development and Housing Authority to distribute low-cost loans for affordable housing units –
- Buy new housing set aside for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and new units for deeply affordable housing (households with income from zero to 30% of the Area Median Income which is $25,500 for a family of three in Nashville). All of these units are dedicated to housing the homeless. The units will be assigned through a coordinated entry process that assesses and prioritizes need, and each individual and family will be matched with the appropriate level of Housing First supportive services to make sure that once they are housed, they stay housed.
- This program will not only add new units, but it will bring them on line for use quickly, by financing units in developments currently under construction or ready to close. That means projects slated to be finished in as soon as six months will have affordable units reserved for permanent supportive housing for the most vulnerable.
- Address funding gaps for developers due to cost increases and/or supply chain disruptions.
RS2022-1697: $9M funding for Housing First supportive services –
- Invest in developing Housing First case management teams to assure our hardest to house individuals and families receive the support they need to retain their housing, and the support they need to make the choice to change.
- Investing in client-based services assigned through Coordinated Entry and will follow the client no matter what program or housing they are in. These services will also support those who are currently housed and do not have supportive services assigned to them.
- Fund services like mental health, addiction treatment, referrals to health services, as well as assisting individuals/families with housing applications, applications for benefits, and reconnecting individuals served with family and community groups. Service teams may include rehab/recovery specialists, trained peer support specialists, medical professionals, psychiatrists, therapists, employment specialists and other social service professionals. It is intended that these services will be community-based, client-centered, mobile, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Services are expected to use a trauma-informed, harm reduction, and strengths-based approach.
- Improve the success of TennCare and Disability applications by including SOAR and even paralegals to increase access to social security disability benefits for adults and children who are eligible.
RS2022-1698: $9M for temporary interim gap housing administered by Metro Homeless Impact Division –
- Expand temporary solutions for residents in the housing pipeline so no one has to sleep outside while we find them units.
- Allow partnerships with non-profits, faith-based groups, and others to expand capacity and create more temporary gap housing for individuals from 90 days to up to two years.
- RS2022-1699: $7M for low barrier housing collective and competitive grants administered through the Metro Homelessness Impact Division.
- Continue an existing program where Metro partners directly with landlords, developers and building owners along with the non-profit community to incentivize them to relax their criteria and get more people off the streets and into housing.
- In the past year, we’ve seen a 56% increase in the landlords who are participating, and a 47% increase in the units available.
- Create grants to build capacity in Housing First programs for all homeless populations such as youth, families, LGBTQ+, and domestic violence, as well as programs that provide prevention and diversion services. We want to make sure that while we are moving people out of homelessness and into housing, that we have the critical interventions in place to stop them from becoming homeless.
“These new resources will significantly bolster our ability to address the root cause of why folks on the street are there,” said Cooper.
On September 29, the mayor plans to hold a work session for council members to ask questions and further discuss the plan.