Author Archives: jtackett

Landlords, help us open doors for homeless Veterans

50 communities nationwide have effectively ended Veteran homelessness.

Let’s join that club, Nashville!

We already have a workgroup of local, state, and national partners meeting monthly to improve our collaboration to house even more Nashville Veterans and meet the criteria and benchmarks outlined by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness in 2018.

What we need now is for you to help us identify landlords willing to rent to Veterans who receive subsidies.

Earlier this year, Mayor Megan Barry created a landlord incentive program through the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency. Participating landlords are eligible for a lease signing bonus through the VASH program, which combines a rental assistance voucher with case management and clinical services to assist Veterans transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing. In addition, the incentive program will pay for some unpaid rent and damages, should a renter leave in bad standing.

How can you help?

  1. Share the information below through social media, with your congregation and your neighborhood association, with your friends and families. Help us reach landlords!
  2. Donate to the How’s Nashville fund to help cover move-in costs.

Our call for landlords:

If you are a landlord/owner and would like to make a unit available to an eligible homeless Veteran, please contact Diana Reado, MDHA VASH Program Outreach Coordinator, at, or by phone at 615-782-3950.

Outcome-oriented solutions

What are successful outcomes for people experiencing homelessness?

For most of us, the answer seems to be a no-brainer: housing.

However, moving people into housing is often an output because the success is to help people improve their situation and reach some form of housing stability. Thus, reaching low recidivism rates is an outcome measure we should pay attention to, especially after one or two years.

The following article, entitled Rethinking Homeless Shelters from the Ground Up, which was recently published by The Atlantic’s CityLab, provides an example of ground-breaking approach of how to design a program that is outcome-driven.

We need new, bold thinking and align it with our funding sources to drive true change that improve people’s lives long-term.

Housing First is not Housing Only

Nashville has some catching up to do when it comes to understanding the Housing First philosophy.

The big “aha” moment usually happens when service provider listen to each other and describe the different levels of support that people need once they are in housing. Some people may be open to participating in comprehensive and intensive wrap-around services that provide mental and physical health services, occupational therapy, financial literacy, and other support. Others may seek assistance with the initial transition from literal homelessness to permanent housing, but over time will do well on their own once they’re linked with mainstream support systems such as health insurance, Food Stamps, Section 8 vouchers, child care, and/or employment services.

Nashville providers often still think that Housing First means moving a person into permanent housing. [Period]. That, however, is Housing Only. Some people may choose to participate in a transitional housing program with intensive services first before they want to lease an own apartment. Others may prefer a group setting over living on their own.

Our role as providers is to truly help people figure out what works for them and assist them with a housing plan that outlines goals based on their current situation.

Housing First is meeting people who experience literal homelessness where they are and walking alongside them to help them obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible and link them with the right level of support services so they are able to maintain their housing long-term. The goal always is to ensure people have the tools they need to remain in housing and avoid to fall back into homelessness.

Collective Impact Convening

Nashville showed up in force at this year’s Collective Impact Convening in Boston, from May 23-25, sponsored by the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and FSG.

Our city was represented by the nonprofit, government, and philanthropic sectors to learn about effective ways to collaborate on solving large-scale, complex social issues.

How’s Nashville is a collective impact initiative that is organized around:

  1. A Common Agenda.
  2. Common Progress Measures.
  3. Mutually Reinforcing Activities.
  4. Ongoing Communications.
  5. And a Backbone Organization.

With our community’s discussion around strengthening and unifying our governance system around homelessness, we will revamp our How’s Nashville collaborative. It is useful to take time out and think what tools are available to us to make our work meaningful and engaging for all stakeholders.

Collective Impact provides such tools.


Landlord engagement

The key aspect of a successful campaign to end homelessness is landlord engagement. As communities we talk a lot about coordinated entry systems and a housing first approach.

However, without a clear, coordinated exit strategy, we will end up with a new way of creating a community waiting list, which is not our goal. Thus, landlord engagement is a key strategy that Nashville is building up on.

The main aspect is building and maintaining relationships with private market landlords as the city is expanding its work on retaining affordable housing opportunities. Often times, these relationships allow us to ask for a little lenience on a person’s background and convince a landlord to give a family/individual a chance.

Thanks to our efforts, Nashville has been able to increase its monthly housing placement rate since 2013. With an increasing difficult affordable rental market, we need more landlord engagements to maintain these relationships and create more opportunities for the people we serve.


Housing Placements

We are working in partnership with our community on catching up with our 2017 Housing Placement Rates.

For January 2017, our community assisted 65 people experiencing chronic homelessness with permanent housing. In addition, 10 veterans who were literally homeless obtained housing.

The numbers are submitted by our community partners to the Metropolitan Homelessness Commission. The Commission de-duplicates numbers and then the How’s Nashville collaborative posts them online.