Ask Mayor Cooper and the Metro Council to do more to protect Nashville’s homeless from COVID-19
Over the weekend, 119 positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed at Nashville’s homeless shelters: 19 at the Fairgrounds and 100 at the Nashville Rescue Mission. Additional tests were described as “pending” and “indeterminate.” It’s crucial that we continue to put pressure on Metro to act NOW to ensure the safety of our friends on the streets and the broader Nashville community.
SUBJECT: Metro MUST do more to protect homeless Nashvillians
Dear Mayor Cooper, Senior Advisor Mary Falls, and [Your Metro Council Member],
While Metro has taken some important actions to support and protect people experiencing homelessness in Nashville during this devastating pandemic, Metro can and must do more.
Specifically, Metro Nashville should:
1) Use a significant portion of the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds to provide hotel/motel vouchers to people experiencing homelessness and to ensure the safety of Nashville’s most vulnerable residents including communities of color and people who are homeless, elderly, disabled, and living with chronic health conditions.
2) Follow FEMA guidelines for non-communal sheltering for individuals who are symptomatic, awaiting testing, and COVID-19 positive, as well as for high-risk homeless individuals (e.g. hotels, vacant dorms, nursing homes, etc.). Despite claims that the Fairgrounds provide “non-congregate” shelters, some guests continue to share areas like bathrooms, dining areas, and other communal areas. By definition, the Fairgrounds therefore is a “congregate shelter.” Providing non-communal sheltering would allow for Metro to receive FEMA funding for these services. Our sister cities like Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga have already taken this approach, as have countless cities across the nation.
3) Commit to frequently re-testing shelter guests and staff at the Fairgrounds and the Mission to account for new cases and false negatives. Provide mobile rapid testing for those living in homeless encampments.
Thanks for everything you are already doing to support our fellow Nashvillians who are particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of this pandemic, but we can and must do more.
[your name][your address or council district]