nashville tent city

Tent City, U.S.A.

Last night, the documentary “Tent City, U.S.A.” aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network. This documentary tells the story of Nashville’s Tent City before and after the devastating flood of May 2010.  Unfortunately, not enough has changed since the flood. Now more than ever, we need an officially sanctioned encampment in Nashville. Metro Police have been targeting all unsanctioned encampments including former Tent City resident Macgyver’s last campsite which was destroyed by the city about a month ago. With harsh anti-homeless and anti-camping laws, Nashville needs a safe zone for all of the people who can’t  (or won’t) seek shelter in traditional places like The Mission – those who have pets, who work non-traditional work hours, who have spouses/partners, or who simply can’t handle the harsh environment of our over-crowded shelters. While we have approximately 4,000 men and women who are un-housed every night, we only have about 1,500 units of shelter and transitional housing.

We need a safe-zone or an officially sanctioned encampment. We need more outreach workers like Jeannie Alexander, a founding member of this community. And we desperately need more accessible and affordable housing.

Open Table Nashville, an inter-faith non-profit, was formed in the months after the flood and has taken Hobson House under its umbrella. Jeannie and Doug, who were featured in the documentary, were also co-founders of Open Table. If you’d like to join in the work we’re doing, visit our website at Our mission is to disrupt cycles of poverty, journey with the marginalized, and provide education about issues of homelessness. We are still connected to and involved with most of the people featured in the documentary. They are our friends. As aboriginal organizer Lilla Watson once said, “If you’ve come to help me, you’re wasting your time. But if you’ve come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Tent City Update: On the Move

“Tent Cities are America’s de facto waiting room for affordable and accessible housing. The idea of someone living in a tent in this country says little about the decisions made by those who dwell within and so much more about our nation’s inability to adequately respond to those in need.” -Neil Donovan, National Coalition for the Homeless.

After a month of being at the Beaman property in Antioch, we’re moving the Tent City residents to a new location. If you can help us move, please meet us THIS SATURDAY, July 3rd at 9am at Tent City’s current location in Antioch (e-mail for directions and to let us know if you’re coming). If you can, bring water and a car/truck/van/bus/trailer. We need all the help we can get, so please bring your friends and their cars, too! We will have the new temporary location secured and available by Saturday.  

 If you can’t come at 9am, we’ll be meeting at Otter Creek Church (409 Franklin Rd, Brentwood, TN 37027) for lunch at 1pm. In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to need assistance with providing meals for the residents, individuals and groups who can stay with the residents as “Inn Keepers,” and drivers who can assist residents with going to housing and medical appointments. Please e-mail us if you are able to help and we will put you to work! If you’d like to provide meals, please e-mail

Also, don’t forget to pick up the latest copy of The Contributor which hits the streets this Wednesday for further information and reflections on Tent City.