Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Homeless Critical of Rescue Mission


The Nashville Homeless Power Project last week released the results of a survey of Nashville's Homeless with suggestions concerning issues at the Nashville Rescue Mission. According to the Homeless Power Project, "From August 22nd, 2007 to September 27th, 2007, the Nashville Homeless Power Project (NHPP) has surveyed 186 homeless people, 113 of whom are currently clients of the Nashville Rescue Mission (NRM). The remaining 73 have been clients in the past. Also in the same time frame, we received anonymous statements from 10 homeless case managers from 7 different homeless service agencies, and the written testimony of 4 Northwestern University students that stayed at the NRM during the month of August.

The survey, testimonials, and various documents which comprise this report were collected because of continual complaints from homeless individuals about the “horrible conditions” at the Nashville Rescue Mission. The NHPP has heard these types of reports without solicitation from hundreds of homeless people, and have heard similar reports from people who stayed at the Mission back in 1997 to present day 2007. The NHPP is confident that this report effectively demonstrates the condemnable reality described by clients of the NRM. Further, we believe that a random sampling of homeless people would reveal similar and countless horror stories of their time at the NRM; it is possibly the recipient of the majority of complaints of maltreatment of all homeless services agency in the city.

The purpose of this report is to facilitate extensive change within the NRM so that it will 1) provide its clients with the dignity and respect that every human being deserves, and 2) improve NRM’s capacity to move people from shelter toward permanent housing. To this end, the NHPP has compiled a comprehensive list QUALITY OF LIFE REQUESTS that NHPP believes will help NRM reach the previously stated goals (this list can be found on pages:9-11). The NHPP does not believe that we have the “only way” to improve conditions at the NRM, but we believe that there are some key actions that must be taken in order for real change to occur:

· NRM should re-orient itself to facilitate “transients” toward housing by assisting them to leave the shelter as soon as they are able to make the next steps toward transitional living or permanent housing, work, services, and/or benefits.

· Such re-orientation should include providing trained referral workers, provision of phones, protection from extreme severe weather conditions, job readiness programs, and storage for people’s personal belongings.

· Mary Crutcher, Coordinator of the Women’s Mission should be removed from directly interacting with Mission Clients, especially with the “transients,” which is the label given to homeless individuals who utilize Emergency shelter services at NRM, but are not a part of their specialized programs.

· Don Worrell, Director of Programs, should be replaced with someone who is a “people person,” and understands how to create a culture that remembers tough love while also treating people decently.

· The NRM should develop thorough staff policies that illustrates its priority to treat all of their clients with dignity and respect.

· The NRM should institute a training course to ensure that all NRM staff members understand NRM policies and processes, which should include measures of accountability to clients"

www.homelesspower.org

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