Soon to be dozed
Proponents and residents of Tent City off of Anthes Road are planning to protest the scheduled Nov. 1 closing of the encampment at the Metro Courthouse on Friday. Some 150 are expected to turn out. Their rallying cry: If you bulldoze Tent City, bulldoze our homes as well. We'll even deliver keys and addresses. That's one hell of a bluff. A petition sent to Mayor Karl Dean read:
“As concerned citizens of Nashville who believe that providing housing is a better solution than destroying it and as advocates for the residents who have called Tent City home for over eight years, we beseech you to consider alternative solutions to closing the camp on November 1st, i.e. allowing churches, students, and other community members to build shower facilities and provide provisions for the winter such as warm sleeping bags, propane heaters and food. While several of the residents have found housing, many still have no place to go."
Whatever your feelings on unsanctioned homeless encampments, Tent City has its pros and cons. If it keeps them off of the streets and out of harm's way, by all means, camp. But the event that precipitated the closing—a stabbing—seems to have precluded such a qualification in the eyes of Metro Nashville. Set back in the woods, the cops have found the population a difficult one to service. And even if the primary, long-term residents of Tent City are peaceful, God-fearing campers, a few bad apples have spoiled it for the whole bunch, regardless of whether or not they ever resided in Tent City proper—a detail for which I was hammered by a few supporters who took issue with a story I wrote about Tent City
. (Apparently I spoke with undesirables and strayed out of the Tent City limits and into another area where people live in tents, not to be confused with Tent City)
In the end, Nashville Metro thinks that the Tent City way of life isn't sustainable, from the violence to the sanitation problems that become apparent in downwind situations. What if it was sustainable, though? An honest-to-God campsite with toilets, showers, etc.? Or are Nashvillians and the homeless population better off without Tent City?