NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Monday night, Hermitage residents sat and stood in a packed room, demanding answers from Metro officials after an encampment sprung up off of Andrew Jackson Parkway.
“Just the amount of litter you see in the area. I’ve seen no less than 30 shopping carts, they have tents, they have grills,” described Jennifer Good, who lives near the encampment. “We can’t allow them to destroy our community.”
Brookemeade, Edmondson Pike, and now Hermitage, are just a few of the encampments that have caught the attention of residents. In Hermitage, hidden amongst the trees, you can see tents and trash piled up.
News 2 asked Good how she would describe the encampment. She responded stating, “dangerous because I’ve read posts where they’ve actually been aggressive towards people trying to get money. Dangerous in that it’s not good for the environment to have all that trash out there for the wildlife, and it just makes our area look dilapidated.”
On Monday, residents sat side by side, while others packed the room standing, as they waited for answers on what would be done to end the encampment.
The Mayor’s office encouraged people to be patient, stating although Mayor Cooper has chosen not to seek re-election, during his last months in office, homelessness is an issue he is dedicated to solving until the very end.
“Most of the time when all of you call, or phone me, about the second sentence, almost everybody says is, I feel for these folks, I care for these folks, I just want something done for these folks,” said Officer Robert Weaver, Community Affairs Coordinator. “Your Metropolitan government is working on a solution. We did not get here overnight, we aren’t going to get out of this overnight.”
The Metro Homeless Impact Division, tasked with taking $50 million allocated to ending homelessness, explained change will take time. A major focus is making sure people aren’t going from camp to camp.
“What solves homelessness is housing. What solves homelessness is housing,” said April Calvin with the Metro Impact Division. “As a community, we are dedicated to not closing location and not having resources that meet the needs of individuals that live there, because otherwise, you’re just going to move them from one block to the other.”
During the meeting, WeGo Representatives stated earlier this month they surveyed the area and gave a 30-day notice to those living in this encampment.
“One of the other pieces that we are looking at is how we get our signage up. One of the questions I saw was about signage and trespassing. We have put those up over the last several years, and every time we put them up, someone takes them down,” said Vince Malone, with WeGo.
The Metro Impact Division announced on Thursday, February 16, they will host a Resource Fair for those living in Hermitage encampments. On February 23, they have a clean-up day scheduled. The department emphasized the importance of patients, however, many residents want action now.