Neighbors clash over tiny home community for homeless

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A proposed tiny home community has South Nashville neighbors at odds.

The community of twenty-two 220 square foot tiny homes will be built on the Glencliff Methodist Church property in Woodbine.

The homes will be for those experiencing homelessness and who are most vulnerable on the streets.

Each home will cost $30,000 and is completely funded through private donors.

Open Table Nashville is the non-profit behind the project.

“We’re hoping that we can have a hospitable community to welcome them into,” said Open Table co-founder Ingrid McIntyre. “Maybe folks can get to know each other and build relationships across economic barriers and other barriers.”

However, at a meeting Thursday, neighbors clashed over the project.

The meeting was held to address concerns and answer questions, but mostly people wanted to voice their opinions.

“We’ve had several brutal murders and rapes committed by our homeless friends,” said Bill Durkin. He’s a homeowner who started the group called Neighbors Concerned about Open Table Nashville.

On Feb. 28, 23-year-old Tiffany Ferguson was stabbed to death in her apartment allegedly by a homeless man. Christopher McLawhorn, 24, has been arrested and charged with her murder.

On Monday, a 25-year-old woman was raped in her apartment near Belmont University. She was also forced to withdraw money from the ATM.

Thirty-one year old Jason Williams has been arrested and charged with those crimes. He, too, is a man experiencing homelessness.

“Certainly, they were tragic events,” said McIntyre. “But those things happen with all kinds of people. These two men just happened to be experiencing homelessness.”

She also says that statistics show that people living on the streets or outdoors are far more likely to be victims instead of the perpetrators of crimes.

McIntyre also says the community will be a sober-living community. Residents will not be allowed to drink or do drugs. If they do, they could be evicted.

There will also be private security and security cameras. However, that didn’t assuage the fears of some neighbors.

Another concern neighbors had was a decrease in property values.

“This is a big county with a lot of property, and the people behind OTN have a lot of money,” said Drukin. “They can find a more suitable area that’s not going to impact a residential community like ours.”

The project is being built on church property, so it is protected under religious exemption laws. That means council doesn’t have to approve it and there is very little anyone can do.

However, Open Table says they will continue to have meetings to address community concerns.