A overcrowded church fellowship hall was the stage for heated debate, complete with jeers and yelling, over a proposed micro home village to help Nashville’s homeless.
Those against the project – dubbed The Village at Glencliff – outweighed its fans as neighbors cheered on speakers citing concerns over the flow of information about the project, the possibility of future tent encampments, depleting property values and resident rule enforcement.
Rendering of The Village at Glencliff. (Credit: Centric Architecture and Open Table Nashville)
The village of 22 micro homes will sit on six acres of land at Glencliff United Methodist Church at 2901 Glencliff Road. The homes – 200 and 400 square feet – will include kitchen and a bathroom.
Open Table Nashville is behind the project, and executive director Ingrid McIntyre attended the meeting to answer questions written by attendees on index cards.
The majority of questions and concerns focused on security.
Pat Neil, 57, is a lifelong resident of the neighborhood. She said the project has her scared for her safety, and she fears it will result in an overflow of people experiencing homelessness into her community.
“I’m afraid that these homeless people are going to bring their friends and they’re going to end up in my backyard,” she said.
“I think that there’s plenty of areas in Nashville that it could be built instead of in our backyard.”
According to McIntyre, a security officer will patrol The Village at night. The area will include two campus safety polls.
Residents will be required to sign a contract that prohibits drugs and alcohol use. Overnight guests will not be permitted.
Many attendees also cited concerns over homeless people experiencing mental health issues or addiction. McIntyre said a full-time care coordinator will be onsite to guide residents to health services, including mental health care.
But her explanation did little to dispel the crowd’s fears, as attendees loudly called for police presence.
Other neighbors said they want the option to vote on The Village coming into their community. GUMC members, under the leadership of Pastor Sandra Griggs, voted to approve the project last fall.
Under the Religious Land Use Act, the church can build the homes without approval from Metro Council.
While the raucous meeting continued for an hour and a half, it was a young woman’s speech in support of the project that brought about one of the meeting’s few quiet moments.
Introducing herself as Katie, she silenced the room with her story of becoming homeless as a teenager after a medical procedure left her disabled. The crisis forced she and her mother to live in their car; her mother died in the car before medics could save her. Then, a family took her in and gave her a second chance.
"I’m disgusted because of the stigma attached to homelessness," she told the crowd. "I support this because I didn’t have anything like this."
Many neighbors in support of the project held signs that read, "Our neighborhood welcomes all."
Jim Hawk, executive director of the Neighborhood Resource Center and East Nashville resident, served as moderator for the event.
McIntyre pledged to the crowd that she and her staff will circulate a document that answers any unanswered questions brought by attendees.
The estimated cost of The Village at Glencliff is $800,000. Construction on the initial phase of 10 homes is expected to begin in July.