Photo from Wikipedia: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Photo from Wikipedia: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Nashville’s compassion shows city’s strength

“t is clear that Nashville is experiencing tremendous growth, revitalization and an increased population. Sadly, we are also seeing incredible growth in the number of homeless men, women and children who are in need of meals, beds and counseling services… I am confident Nashville is up for this growing challenge of care and compassion”

I would disagree with the writer Glenn Cranfield.

I commend your post on Homelessness but Nashville is not a leader in this area. Nashville works hard to hide the homeless from the same areas you cited are sprawling with business. Brentwood fought hard to get the Contributor vendors off the street, and compared to other cities, Nashville citizens are pretty snobby to the homeless.

Nashville is one of the greatest concentrations of non profits. The Non Profit business is a very lucrative one especially for CEO’s. Non profit performance should not be a metric for the compassion of a city.

Organization support is one thing, for places like Second Harvest and Safe Haven but individual Nashvillian attitudes towards those left fortunate must change for any long lasting change to take place. Otherwise non profits who are strained will continue to be strained. The only people I think who truly get it are some Nashville Metro police who will take a homeless individual to ‘Room at the Inn’ instead of jail, some Metro Nashville know among other things, Room at the Inn is more cost effective for the tax payer, and more compassionate.

For a situation like homelessness to improve there has to be a cultural change in how a city thinks and attitudes of individual citizens.  In reading about “How’s Nashville” and it’s goal to “… end veterans homelessness by the end of 2015 and chronic homelessness by the end of 2016.”  I nearly fell out of my seat laughing. No agency can do a city of citizens with changed attitudes can do and if any agency could accomplish this they’d have done so by now and in a better hearted city than Nashville.

They will make a lot of money in donations and salaries but unless they can change the hearts and minds of the average Nashville citizen, they will only be treating the symptom, not the cure. Lots of money will be spent but homelessness is a cycle they will not succeed in breaking, except maybe for themselves and their paid staff.  Change the hearts and minds of a city and you can end the cycle of homelessness. No one has done that yet. Because it’s NOT PROFITABLE. 

Ask the average Nashvillian if they’ve said “hello” to a homeless person this year. The answer will be no. and the Contributor vendor doesn’t count. Again I commend the recognition but it’s not the non profits who need the recognition, it’s the homeless so places like Brentwood won’t fight them and so tourism minded individuals won’t try so hard to make them dissapear.

Contributor Loses Recent Legal Fight with City of Brentwood – I would argue highly this article is proof of Middle TN’s lack of compassion to the homeless and I do consider Brentwood part of Nashville for these purposes. So be careful how fast you pat Nashville on the back. It’s people are not so kind.

How can we really show compassion and end the cycle of homelessness? Start by “saying hello” and having a conversation with someone who is homeless. You might just be surprised what comes out of it.

Photo Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Homeless_E1.jpg