Nashville Homeless Mayoral Candidate Forum

The NHPP held a forum on the homeless with the Nashville mayoral candidates this week. They all agreed to do the NHPP’s “urban plunge” by August 2nd. In addition, there was a survey, the results of which are below:

HOUSING: All six candidates committed to supporting the Commission to End Chronic Homelessness. Only David Briley committed to # of housing units per year. Gentry committed to creating a Department on Homelessness.
MEDIA: Channel 2, 5, Fox17, Tennessean, and NPR covered the forum.
TURNOUT: Over a hundred and twenty homeless and allies came to the forum.
HOUSING & SERVICES THE ANSWER: All candidates agreed that increase in housing and services is critical part of the solution.


Below are the questions we asked and the commitments that each candidate made. We did not publicize anything that was said that was not a clear commitment. Example: “Education is my priority.”

The Commission to End Chronic Homelessness has committed to create 1,800 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless families and chronically homeless people by 2015. To stay on track, the Commission needs to create at least 200 newly available units each year with a commitment of approximately $2.3 Million in leverage funds (1/3 of total cost). Will you maintain the Commission’s commitment? More specifically, will pledge to ensure that at least 200 unit of low-income house per year are built in Nashville during your tenure?

Briley: 1st year will set up the infrastructure and then 200 plus every year thereafter.
Clement: No clear commitment, was a champion of HOPE VI when a Senator.
Dean: Did not commit to an amount. Will reevaluate the Commission and then determine, but housing is part of the answer. It must be a wholistic approach,
Dozier: Did not commit to an amount. Will work to put funds in the Capitol Improvements Budget and work with the public, private and faith communities.
Eaton: Will start building 200 units on day 1 as Mayor.
Gentry: Did not commit to an amount. Will change Commission to End Homelessness to a Department on Homelessness.


The Nashville Homeless Power Project is not for or against panhandling. We know that many of us do panhandle as a way to survive. We also know it is not the solution to ending homelessness. Do you see a creative way to decrease panhandling in the city without involving law enforcement?

Briley: More housing, more services, but must consider all citizens
Clement: Give panhandlers jobs passing out flyers or cleaning up garbage. Offer jobs.
Dean: Supports Downtown Partnerships Plan: “HELP, Don’t Give”, more housing and services, ordinances are not the solution
Dozier: No clear commitment
Eaton: Open a 24 hour shelter with social services attached, don’t criminalize it.
Gentry: Get the solutions to panhandling from those who “don’t have” not from the “haves”. Criminalizing panhandling is not the solution.


In front of you, you have a copy of a citation that we believe individuals on the street receive on a regular basis. The officer who wrote this specific citation wrote on February 27th, 2007 that the defendant is charged with “Obstructing a passageway” because “the defendant was asleep on the sidewalk lying across the steam grate on 7th Ave, North. The defendant was blocking the sidewalk. While we understand an officer must enforce the law are there more creative ways to address this issue?

Briley: Don’t know answer but bring everyone together, look at police training to get people to services rather than to incarcerate.
Clement: Public bathrooms, follow guidance of Civic Design Denter to have a place accessible to homeless around the clock. Expand Homelessness 101 program with police
Dean: Public restrooms in the downtown area, more housing, more services
Dozier: Continue to educate and expand Homelessness 101 program with police and include the fire department in training
Eaton: As Mayor, will instruct Police Chief to bring people sleeping on the grates to the shelters
Gentry: Make sure there is a place for the police to take them at night by working with agencies to have a place that is open around the clock.