Advocate thinks recycling idea can solve Nashville’s homeless problem

Homeless house pallets
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A homeless advocate thinks her recycling idea can help to solve the problem of homelessness in Nashville.

It was a week ago when city officials evicted homeless campers from the Fort Negley Park.

A handful now have housing, while the majority remains on the streets. A few of the campers have stayed put in the park.

Campers are using stacks of old shipping pallets to build platforms for tents to keep their belongings dry at the Fort Negley campground, but Brittney Brown sees an even better use for them.

Tent City Urbanism
The pallet homes could be constructed for as little as $500. (Photo: WKRN)

“It’s going to be houses made of pallets, which are something worldwide thrown in the dumpster,” Brown said.

She is the founder of Operation Not Forsaken, an organization dedicated to helping the homeless.

Now that Metro Parks officials have ordered campers to vacate the Fort Negley homeless campground, Brown is more determined than ever to find them affordable housing.

“It’s called Tent City Urbanism, and I mean it’s an excellent idea and it’s so cost effective,” Brown said.

So she’s come up with an idea of building Not Forsaken Haven, a village of pallet homes for the homeless.

“They can cost as low as $500 a unit to make or as expensive as $3,000 to make,” Brown said. “It just depends on what type of insulation you are going to use on the inside, how you are going to electrically wire it or if you are going to use solar panels.”

The first step in the project is finding land to build the village.

“We can utilize the land to help self-serve the community so like whether it be agriculture or selling fire wood in the winter; it’s going to be a sustainable community,” she said.

Tent City Urbanism
Campers are using stacks of old shipping pallets to build platforms for tents to keep their belongings dry (Photo: WKRN)

Brown said when and if this project gets off the ground, it won’t be a hand-out, campers will have to get their hands dirty, put in a little sweat-equality if you will, and help build the home.

“They’re not just going to show up after it’s all done, they are in for it,” Brown said. “They’re ready to pull their sleeves up and put in some hard work.”

Ft. Negley camper Ronnie Kelley is all for trading his tent for a more permanent structure.

“I think alternative camping should be an alternative lifestyle, you know, with housing cost increasing,” Kelley said.

Brown is hoping to take this idea which is now on paper and make it a reality.

“I just don’t understand why something like this hasn’t already been put in place, there are all sort of homeless tiny community all over the United States in place, like Portland, Oregon, Dignity Village,” Brown said.

Metro Parks have made nightly visits to the campsite and started issuing citations for overnight camping.

Those receiving citations will appear in court on Oct. 24.

Mayor-elect Megan Barry, who served four years on the homelessness commission, said in a statement, “On Monday, the Homelessness Commission working with advocates and our Metro departments will be meeting to discuss the issue of encampments and work on the best way to move forward. I’m optimistic that progress and consensus will come out of this meeting.”

“As mayor, I will work with homeless advocates, city departments, and our faith community to find temporary and permanent housing solutions for those who are experiencing homelessness, while treating them with dignity and respect in the process.”

Brown has started a GoFundMe account to raise money to buy land and build Not Forsaken Haven. Click here for more information, or to donate.

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