Micro Home Village: An Invitation to Community
Ingrid McIntyre, Executive Director
Open Table Nashville
VISION: To provide a dignified, loving, and hospitable transitional housing community for Nashville’s homeless in an effort to meet each individual’s most basic needs so that he or she is empowered to focus on rehabilitation and addressing the reason(s) he or she became homeless.
What does The Village provide for Nashville?
“Tent Cities are America’s de facto waiting room for affordable and accessible housing. The idea of someone living in a tent in this country says little about the decisions made by those who dwell within and so much more about our nation’s inability to adequately respond to those in need.” – Neil Donovan, National Coalition for the Homeless.
Over 4,000 homeless individuals call the streets and shelters of Nashville home. Every night, traditional shelters like the Nashville Rescue Mission and transitional housing facilities like domestic violence shelters are only able to accommodate about 1,700 individuals. That leaves the remaining population of nearly 2,500 people with no place to lay their heads save the streets, underpasses, and encampments of Nashville.
Persons living on the streets or in encampments are often arrested or given citations repeatedly for “Quality of Life Ordinances” such as trespassing, obstruction of passageway, public urination, public intoxication, and other non-criminal offenses. Others have severe physical and mental health problems which are exacerbated by living on the streets, unprotected from the elements. Such individuals often end up in and out of our county jails, emergency rooms, detox facilities, hospitals, crisis centers, and state mental hospitals. This cycle is destructive not only to the individual, but also to the community. As The How’s Nashville Campaign cites on its website, “The costs of health care (including ER visits and medical detox), jail time, court and other services diminish quickly when a person is no longer attempting to survive on the streets.”
While it is widely acknowledged that Housing First initiatives and Permanent Supportive Housing are successful in addressing homelessness in the United States, Nashville must also provide dignified transitional living arrangements to prepare the homeless community to move into permanent housing while we are expanding Nashville’s stock of accessible, low-income housing. Our hope is that the need for transitional facilities and emergency services in Nashville will decrease as our permanent housing facilities increase. Although Nashville currently has a host of transitional housing programs, hundreds of individuals experiencing homelessness fall through the cracks because they don’t “meet criteria” or are deemed ineligible. Those who fall through the cracks of Nashville’s existing transitional services include:
– Homeless spouses and couples
– Pet owners and their pets
– Homeless families (with adult and non-adult children)
– Homeless individuals with certain criminal records
– Homeless individuals with non-traditional work schedules
– Homeless individuals with certain physical, mental, or developmental disabilities.
These are the groups of people who often choose to live in illegal encampments. Without a safe place to transition into housing, access to needed services, basic sanitation, and resources, these groups often isolate, become chronically homeless, and have a difficult time obtaining housing, stability, and ultimately, recovery. The Village provides an alternative to “tent cities” and a dignified community where those who do not fit into traditional services can gain the life-saving and life-giving assistance they so desperately need.
“Does the compassionate life not demand that we be present to those who suffer; does it not require that we enter into solidarity with the poor, oppressed, and downtrodden; does it not motivate us both to move into the thick of life and to experience the hardships of existence in solidarity with the outcasts?” – Henri Nouwen
The Village has been conceived and founded on faith-based values and principles and is structured to point toward permanent supportive housing and Housing First initiatives for its residents. The Village is intended to be a faith-based initiative where all are invited but not required to participate in the spiritual life of the community. Our goal is to create a loving, hospitable, compassionate, and rehabilitative community for our friends who are transitioning from the streets to move toward permanent supportive housing. One of our founding principles is God’s call to bring human dignity to all people by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and housing homeless, and showing hospitality to the stranger.
Our core values and goals include:
– Recognizing the inherent, universal dignity of all human beings who are created in the image of God
– Providing rest and comfort to the weary and dispossessed
– Addressing both spiritual and material needs
– Creating a community of unrelenting service, mercy, and hospitality
– Creating a community that is welcoming and accepting of all people