Mayor John Cooper announces cold weather shelter plans

Thermometer
A cold weather overflow shelter will be activated when temperatures dip to 28 degrees or lower. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

A cold weather overflow shelter will be activated when temperatures dip to 28 degrees or lower. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

With low temperatures projected for the next week across Metro Nashville, Mayor John Cooper announced Nov. 7 a new initiative to protect homeless individuals in the city with the Metro Cold Weather Overflow Sheltering Plan.

From now until March 31, an overflow shelter will open whenever the National Weather Service's local forecast reaches 28 degrees or below and community partner shelters reach maximum capacity, according to an announcement from the mayor's office. The overflow shelter is located at a vacant Davidson County Sheriff's Office dormitory at 5131 Harding Place, Nashville, and will be open overnight from 7 p.m.-7 a.m. when activated.

“The Cold Weather Task Force has been working expeditiously with stakeholders and our nonprofit partners to ensure that we have a plan in place to help provide access to a warm, safe bed for anyone experiencing homelessness in Nashville during cold winter nights,” Cooper said in a statement. “From guest transportation and meal service to pet sheltering and facility safety, this season’s Metro Cold Weather Overflow Sheltering Plan has been carefully thought out to ensure that Metro helps unhoused and unsheltered individuals and families off the streets when outdoor temperatures become unsafe while, first and foremost, providing the support that our community partners need in fulfilling their missions.”

According to the city, the sheltering plan is a multiagency effort between Metro Social Services, the Office of Emergency Management, DCSO and Metro Public Works.

The new plan comes after Cooper confirmed last month that the city would continue operating cold weather shelters in spite of funding concerns.


The overflow shelter has a maximum capacity of 150 guests and will provide beds, blankets, dinnertime meal service, shower facilities, boarding kennels and dog food for pets, and facility security.

According to Metro Nashville, local shelters Room At the Inn and Nashville Rescue Mission have a capacity of about 1,247 beds. With the overflow shelter, that number rises to 1,397. The highest number of beds utilized last year during the winter was 1,079.

“Our No. 1 priority this winter is to make sure that anyone in Nashville experiencing homelessness knows they don’t need to choose to try and tough it out in the cold,” said Renee Pratt, executive director of Metro Social Services, in a statement. “Room [At] the Inn and Nashville Rescue Mission have plenty of space as our city’s primary shelter providers, and the agencies running the overflow shelter will be keeping a careful eye on the weather and bed counts to make sure there’s more than enough space to keep everyone warm and safe.”

Transportation to the shelter will be provided from a warm staging area at Riverfront Station, located at 101 First Ave., S. Nashville. The staging area will be open from 7 p.m.-1 a.m. for those that have already tried other shelters first or who cannot access them. Upon departure from the overflow shelter, individuals will be given WeGo transit passes for a nearby bus stop, according to the city.

Community partners will be notified when the overflow shelter is activated, and the city's Extreme Weather Information line—615-862-6391—will be updated. Status updates can also be found at www.coldweathernashville.com
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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