Eviction deadline passes for Fort Negley homeless camp

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – People living in the Fort Negley homeless camp south of downtown Nashville faced a Friday deadline to vacate the Metro-owned property.

Camp residents were to vacate the premises by park curfew at 11 p.m. when Metro Parks will enforce the “no camping” policy.

The city postponed the eviction of campers in September, shortly after Nashville Mayor Megan Barry took office.

At that time, all parties were aware that the April deadline would be the time no camping and trespassing laws would once again be enforced.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

Since September, Metro has been working to ensure anyone camping at the site will have a safe place to go before enforcement actions are taken. The city issued written notifications six weeks ago alerting campers of the closure date.

“Tonight, our Metro Parks will once again enforce the hours of operation at Fort Negley, but will do so with a compassionate, service-oriented approach that seeks to work with those living there to find alternative places to live – helping to transport them to shelters and offering to store their belongings during the transition process,” Mayor Barry said in a release.

She continued, “We do not intend to forcibly remove any individuals if they are showing a good faith effort to work with us to find an alternative place to live. Months of work with the community at Fort Negley have been undertaken to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for those living at the encampment. I anticipate that the process of restoring Fort Negley to its intended use will take longer than one more day or night, but ultimately, my administration is firm in its resolve to make it happen.”

Advocates, however, are asking for decriminalization of the homeless and all camp evictions, including the closure of Fort Negley, until there is land for authorized encampments in Davidson County.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

A press conference and rally were held Friday at City Hall. A march to the camp followed, where advocates will camp out in solidarity with the homeless.

“We want a comprehensive plan for affordable housing and a cabinet level office of housing to report to the people about specific plans, means, and goals to address this societal problem. It is time to take action now,” said national housing expert and Vanderbilt professor Dr. Jim Fraser.

Chris Scott, a homeless man who says he’s been living at Fort Negley for seven years, doesn’t know where to go next.

“That’s the question we’re all asking,” said Scott. “Because there is no place. If they go to another camp, it’s just a matter of time before they come there.”

While the city of Nashville has been working to find solutions for those living at Fort Negley, efforts to create an outdoor classroom for the nearby Adventure Science Center has been delayed.

That work is expected to resume once the area is vacated.

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