NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The COVID-19 Overflow Shelter located at the Nashville Fairgrounds is scheduled to close by July 1, the Nashville Office of Emergency Management announced Tuesday.
The city has started the process of closing the shelter as Davidson County increases its vaccination levels, including among the homeless community.
The shelter is set to close by July 1, depending on vaccination levels in Davidson County.
News4 Investigates discovered that taxpayers have spent more than $2.5 million so far housing the homeless at The Fairground Nashville’s new expo buildings.
“There continues to be a higher number of those at the temporary shelter that have been vaccinated thanks to the hard work of the Health Department and other community organizations,” said Dr. Gill Wright, Interim Chief Medical Officer for the Metro Public Health Department, in a news release. “With vaccinations continuing to increase it is safe to being shifting services found at the temporary shelter back to the community organizations that serve the homeless, while also monitoring the process over the next three months.”
When the fairgrounds shelter first opened, it was done to accomplish multiple objectives, including providing a place for people experiencing homelessness to have shelter awaiting COVID-19 test results or to recover following a COVID-19 diagnosis.
The fairgrounds also acted as a place to allow people who are well to have a place to stay that allows them to be socially distanced from each other. This was done to help reduce the population in the city’s primary homeless shelters where social distancing and isolating COVID-19 positive clients was increasingly difficult.
The planned COVID-19 Overflow Shelter Phased Closing:
“This combined effort to provide a safe, stable and sustainable shelter helped protect our unhoused neighbors from the COVID-19 pandemic,” OEM Director Chief William Swann said in a news release. “Now, due to vaccinations the community is returning to pre-pandemic activity and we are happy to start the process of returning the Nashville Fairgrounds to the pre-pandemic events so many people enjoyed and missed.” People awaiting COVID-19 test results and people who are COVID-19 Positive will be able to remain at the shelter throughout the phased closing of the overflow shelter.
Health officials are working with dozens of organizations to get homeless people in Nashville 100 percent access to the COVID vaccine.
Once shelter operations end, the Nashville Fairgrounds will need around 6-8 weeks to complete warranty work that has been postponed due to the pandemic, repair any damage and to clean and sanitize the facility.
“The Fairgrounds Nashville has been happy to assist in the care and temporary housing of Nashville’s vulnerable homeless community during the pandemic,” Nashville Fairgrounds Executive Director Laura Womack said in a news release. “It’s a good indication that Nashville is on the mend as we begin this transition to decommission the shelter. We look forward to safely resuming events in the near future.”
The Metro Public Health Department, Neighborhood Health, and St. Thomas Health continue their collaborative effort along with 19 organizations to provide 100% access to the COVID-19 vaccine for persons in Nashville experiencing homelessness.
You can find more information about Metro Nashville Davidson County’s ongoing COVID-19 response online.