NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - It might be tiny and public housing, but it’s enough for Buena Vista resident Lindora Jefferson.
“I was homeless from 2003 to 2012. You know, when I got this little apartment. It was like somebody gave me a mansion on the hill,” Jefferson said.
Then, COVID-19 rocked that mansion hard.
“I have congestive heart failure. I have diabetes. High Blood Pressure,” Jefferson said.
That puts her in the “at-risk” category for the coronavirus, meaning even simple appointments became more complicated.
“It is really scary, to the fact that I stopped going to my doctor’s appointment,” Jefferson said.
And while many like Jefferson have needed assistance, data shows a real disparity: some areas of the city are in desperate need. But in others, the need isn’t as dire.
Unemployment claim numbers show that families in North and South Nashville have been hit the hardest this year. For instance, in zip code 37207, which makes up the areas surrounding west and east of Trinity Lane and north and south of Brick Church Pike, there were nearly 12,000 new claims from March 2020 to September 2020.
March 2020 to September 2020
|Zip||New Claims||Total Claims|
Courtesy: Department of Labor and Workforce Development
“Even before this year, evictions primarily hit Black communities the hardest. My average client is a Black single mother who is maybe working two jobs to try and provide for her kids, and so, certainly, those folks have been hit really hard,” Kerry Dietz said.
Housing and Consumer attorney Kerry Dietz with Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee says even with many people getting assistance from public housing, the pandemic is causing stress on Nashville’s
Black and Brown communities disproportionately.
“About 50 to 60 percent of my clients would fit into that,” Dietz said.
The United Way sees it too. They have roughly $10 million to distribute to about 100 organizations. Organizations that are taking in thousands of request, mainly from those same North and South Nashville communities.
“Our hope is that we can keep people in their homes until the economy starts to reboot,” Brian Hassett, President of the United Way of Greater Nashville said.
How long that will take this year is unclear. Jefferson says despite the struggles of 2020, she’s just happy to be alive and be a voice for those living in poverty during COVID-19.
“I’m not trying to live like the Joneses. I’m just trying to live. Be grateful for what you got, cause a lot of people don’t have this much,” Jefferson said.
Many of the non-profit organizations helping people like Jefferson have also struggled this year. Hassett says they have had to cancel fundraisers for safety reasons due to COVID-19. Many are also facing dwindling donations. They’re really hoping to see a generous spirit from the community this holiday season.
For a list of non-profit organizations helping residents during the pandemic, click here