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Nashville Creates First-of-Its-Kind Community for Homeless

An artist's rendering of the micro home village planned as temporary housing in south Nashville. (Open Table Nashville)
An artist's rendering of the micro home village planned as temporary housing in south Nashville. (Open Table Nashville)
March 9, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The tiny home craze has become more than a curiosity for viewers of lifestyle television networks. A community of 20 "micro homes" is planned for south Nashville as an innovative solution to the plight of the homeless.

Open Table Nashville is behind the effort to provide temporary housing on the campus of Glencliff United Methodist Church. Ingrid McIntyre, executive director at Open Table, said anything from job loss to mental health issues can result in homelessness - and how well people are able to cope often comes down to whether or not they have a support system.

"We all know people who are housed who have the same issues - so, it's a breakdown in community,” McIntyre said. "And we're trying to build relationships, build community, and also give people who haven't had that opportunity the same opportunities that we have to be able to make a new start."

Open Table estimated more than 4,000 people are homeless in Nashville every night, and existing shelters can accommodate fewer than half of them. It’s also often difficult for families and couples - as well as those with criminal records or mental health issues - to find temporary housing.

McIntyre, an ordained minister, said that in 2016, at least 87 homeless people died as a result of exposure or illness exacerbated by living outdoors.

"I'm excited to announce the housing, but also I'm doing four funerals over the past week and this week,” she said. "And they are for men who were a little bit sick and got a lot sick because they didn't have a place to heal.”

She said construction of the micro homes will begin once a land survey is completed and building permit applications are submitted and approved.

The micro homes will range in size from 220 to 400 square feet and, according to McIntyre, each will have running water, electricity, a kitchen and a bathroom. Open Table will also help temporary housing residents find permanent living space and employment.

So far, about half of the homes are sponsored, and McIntyre said they're looking for additional sponsors.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN