John Henry moved into housing on Aug. 28, and we said we would once in a while check in on how he is doing. So today, Judy went out to see John who is busy writing another article for The Contributor. John told her that he started writing while he was homeless in Nashville. In his writing he focuses on the spiritual aspects of life. Writing has given him a voice to speak out for the downtrodden.
Asked about how everything is going so far, John said he’s been pleased overall. His routine involves getting up in the morning and taking the long bus drive to downtown and then out to Green Hills where he sets up at his location on Hillsboro and Harding to sell The Contributor. John has written over 50 articles for The Contributor and his customers meanwhile expect to see his byline in the paper. If an issue goes by where his articles are not included, John writes it out by hand and makes copies at the library. Then he sticks the copies into his regulars’ papers. “They’ve come to expect to see an article from me,” he said.
Being lonely is not new to John. He became homeless at a very young age when he lost his family because he decided against following his family and changing his faith (read about it in The Contributor’s Vendor Spotlight).
“When I lost my family, I got problems trusting anybody,” John said, adding that he was very close to his six sisters and two brothers growing up in rural Mississippi. The loneliness sometimes creeps back in, he said, when he is alone in his apartment.
But John keeps busy and is making a conscious effort to keep his housing. One such decision still weighs rather heavy on him. He said he had not been sleeping well since pleading guilty on Monday for an aggravated trespassing charge. He said he would have pleaded not-guilty and fought the charge had he still been homeless. He received it shortly before he moved into his new apartment and felt very strongly that it was not justified. But he did not want to risk being arrested and losing his apartment.
“I didn’t want to risk losing what I have here,” John said, pointing around his kitchen and living room.
How’s Nashville is based on existing programs and collaborative efforts led by our partner organizations. The campaign’s success is based on the dedicated work provided by the partners.
Open Table Nashville is one of our biggest champions and is focusing its furniture program on the How’s Nashville campaign. As such, Open Table Nashville works with other partner agencies to fill in the needs and help furnish apartments of new residents. Thanks to Open Table Nashville, the How’s Nashville campaign has saved thousands of dollars.
However, Open Table Nashville relies on furniture donations. Please spread the word, and if you know someone who would like to donate well-maintained furniture, have them fill out the online furniture donation form which goes directly to Open Table Nashville and helps furnish an apartment for a new resident.
To recap quickly the main changes and innovations the How’s Nashville partners achieved during the 100-day campaign include:
- Forging relationships with private landlords that resulted in reduction of rents for people working with How’s Nashville partners;
- Securing a monthly allotment of 18 Section 8 Vouchers under a new partnership with the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA); and
- Bringing partners together to share data and work together in a way to implement a focused, personal approach avoiding duplication of services.
However, there is much to do to continue and improve the work that we started during the 100-day campaign. And How’s Nashville partners are not shying away from the hard work ahead. For one, How’s Nashville partners are in the process of determining what our monthly housing goal should be. That goal will depend largely on our effort to reach out to more landlords who are willing to partner with us and give a person a second chance.
Please contact us if you accept Section 8 vouchers and also if you have a unit available and would like to support the How’s Nashville campaign to end chronic homelessness in our community. After all, the How’s Nashville movement is all about improving lives and in the process strengthening our community.
The How’s Nashville leadership team was thrilled to accept the 2013 Volunteer Award from the Nashville Downtown Partnership at today’s Award Luncheon for our 100-Day Campaign effort.
This award goes to all the many service agencies, landlords, volunteers, donors, and supporters who collaborate with us on the How’s Nashville campaign. The 100 days may be over, but we are just getting started on ending chronic homelessness in Nashville.
Thank you Nashville for coming together like you have done for the first 100 days and beyond!