Moving From Arrests to Apartments
The downtown outreach initiative focuses on homeless individuals with the largest number of recurring arrests per year. The 5-year track record confirms that "housing first" is an effective change agent. That first turn of the key in the door of their apartment can unlock a new life.
This is the only local program focused on this specific group, most of whom are resistant to the very community services they need. A key factor in the program’s success is being able to provide immediate access to transitional housing. If an apartment is not available, the client is housed temporarily at a motel. Nine apartments are maintained at two locations and clients currently occupy seven of them.
Over the past five years, 60 clients have received housing assistance. Based on their prior histories, an estimated 2,796 arrests have been prevented once they moved into an apartment. Six of the clients housed have been in the top 12 list of people with the most arrests in Nashville.
Consistent and long-term follow-up is needed for these clients. The Outreach Coordinator provides case management services and assists clients with finding permanent housing and an income source (SSI/SSDI or employment). Twenty-one of the 60 are now in permanent housing with outside sources of support.
For 2016, $157,225 is budgeted for the outreach program and $84,795 is allocated directly to housing services (rent, deposits and applications).
The return on investment for providing housing is excellent—in terms of the decreases in arrests and hospital Emergency Room visits. Not only do these decreases save millions of taxpayer dollars per year—they also offer opportunities for changed lives and improve the perception of downtown public safety.