April 24, 2020

Help for the Homeless

On any given night, more than 8,000 Tennesseans are homeless. With the current COVID-19 crisis, that number is expected to grow significantly. The Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is leading an effort to provide care and shelter for our state’s homeless communities during the COVID-19 crisis while working toward providing long-term support for ending homelessness in Tennessee.

Finding safe shelter for vulnerable populations is critical to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Home Together Task Force, focusing on the Homeless Service Sector established by this Office, is providing technical assistance and coordination in support of the collaboration between state and local government agencies, nonprofits and faith-based organizations to house healthy homeless families and senior adults in hotels, homes, condominiums and rental facilities throughout the state. We are interested in working with any individuals and organizations that can help in this effort, and suggest you contact the Task Force leader, Major Ethan Frizzell of the Salvation Army, at ethan.frizzell@uss.salvationarmy.org for more information.

Ongoing services to be provided at these sites include nutrition and sanitation, health, mental health and telehealth support, oversight and other services. Similar but separate housing will be sought to quarantine individuals as needed.  

In addition to securing this interim housing, the Office is also supporting and protecting existing homeless communities. They are working to ensure encampments follow the Center for Disease Control’s social distancing guidelines. Local teams are also visiting these sites to provide food and water, sanitation stations, and other health and mental health services as required.

The Office is thankful for the faith organizations, nonprofits, local leaders and state agencies who continue to feed, shelter, serve and guide those who are experiencing homelessness, especially during this time of crisis.

"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40

Other Recent Stories

Making a SPLASH with Art

"When I Think of Home" by Charlie Newton. Newton's Splash Youth Art Network inspires, builds confidence, and breathes life into children at College Hill Courts in Chattanooga, his childhood home.

Keep Reading

"Blessed are your eyes, because you see"

For most of us, the homeless population in our cities is unseen, quiet, taking a back seat to more pressing problems that show up in daily headlines – education, politics, health care. But in 1953, Dr. Charles Fuller, a gospel preacher leading a revival in Nashville saw too many homeless people in the city. He returned the honorarium he received for speaking and asked that it be used to establish a place where the homeless could seek shelter, food, and hope.

Keep Reading

Heart and Soul

There is a commotion at the entrance to the Bethlehem Center in Chattanooga as Rachel DeVore, Director of Education, screams with delight and runs toward 2 boys, wrapping them up in a big hug. After a few minutes chatting with the boys, she slips away, explaining, “Those two boys are my heart and soul, and they moved to Knoxville, and just now popped in the door to say hello. I can’t even tell you how much I love them.”

Keep Reading