Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mayoral Candidates Experience Homelessness

Nashville, TN: Urban Plunge‑‑When economically‑privileged people dress down, empty their wallets, and spend time on the streets as "poor" people, that experience is called a plunge. The Mayoral Urban Plunge in Nashville is the first of it’s kinds according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. 6 Candidates for Nashville Mayor have committed to spending 10 hours (10pm – 8am) out on the streets of Nashville (more below)

After a night out on the street, all candidates will converge at a location to be determined and respond to questions from the homeless community and the media on Wednesday morning at 7:30am, June 20th.

Due to the sensitivity of the event and goal to provide the Candidates with most realistic homeless experience possible, the Nashville Homeless Power Project is only providing the time and location of the Post-Plunge Press Conference. We would like to emphasize that the event will be more true to life with the fewest number of cameras around as possible. It is important for the public to know about the Plunge, the commitment of the candidates and to see coverage of the event and we hope that this will still be possible.

On Wednesday, May 30th, 2007, 6 Mayoral Candidates: Briley, Clement, Dean, Dozier, Eaton and Gentry, participated in the Homelessness and Housing Mayoral Candidate Forum organized by the Nashville Homeless Power Project. During the forum all 6 agreed to spend the night on the streets before August 2nd.

Candidates Briley, Dozier and Gentry have all committed to do the Urban Plunge on the evening / morning of June 20th/June 21st. Candidates Clement, Dean, and Eaton have also committed but have not yet identified a date for doing the plunge as of the afternoon of June 12, 2007.

The purpose of the plunge is to provide the candidates with first hand and direct experience of being homeless so they can fully understand the impact of public policy decision will have on those who are on the streets.

The Power Project has set forth goals for the candidate during their time. Some of those goals are:

To find a legal place to sleep outdoors
Sleep on a bench for 20 minutes or so.
Enter a restaurant and ask if you can sweep the sidewalk or do other work for a sandwich.
Find a place to eat breakfast
Ask for Money/panhandle in a place where you are least likely to be recognized.

According to the Michael Stoops, Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, “Economically-privilidged people across the country have done urban plunges as a way to better understand homelessness. It is the most effective way we have learned for people to understand this reality. 10 hours is not nearly enough and the suggested minimum PLUNGE is 48 hours but we are thankful that they are willing to do this night on the street. Having said that, as far as I know, the National Coalition for the Homeless has never heard of any other city in this country in which political candidates have agreed to do the Urban Plunge. While this should be part of every candidates campaign unfortunately this is a rarity and is truly historic.”

Nashville Homeless Power Project
Homeless Organizing the Homeless & Working for Solutions
42 The Arcade, Nashville, Tennessee 37219
Office: (615) 733-0633 Cell: (615) 569-4740


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