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Proposed development aims to curb crime with homeless housing

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) -- Church Street Park is a notorious spot to find homeless people in Nashville -- and it's right across the street from Nashville Public Library's downtown branch. 

The News4 I-Team's Lindsay Bramson has new details on a plan to house the homeless downtown that city officials hope will decrease crime in the area.

Last year, the I-Team uncovered safety concerns at the downtown library -- everything from assaults and thefts to sexual battery.

We reported last year that Metro police and paramedics responded to the downtown library 900 times between 2015-2017. Many of those incidents involved homeless individuals that regularly sleep in the park across from the library.

"There have been times where there have been so many [homeless] people, I've gone across the block to avoid it from time to time," said Josh Pritchett, who works downtown, in regards to walking past the park.

Now a developer wants to buy several pieces of land downtown, including the Church Street Park, and add more housing for the homeless.

Right now, more than 1,000 people downtown are considered to be homeless.

The News4 I-team found that this development proposal would add more than 100 units of permanent housing for those who need it most.

The total cost? Around $30 million.

A stable foundation is a first basis in coming out of homelessness," said Catherina Moore, who used to be homeless. Most nights, she slept in Church Street Park.

"I hope he would do more than 100 units because there are more than 100 people homeless in Nashville," Moore said.

Those who work at the library said, while half the crime occurs after-house, they welcome anything that could cut down on crime right outside their front doors.

"Anything, in general, that makes our library even safer than it already is -- is always a positive thing," said NPL Spokesperson Andrea Fanta.

Fanta also says they are constantly thinking about safety at the library and being as proactive as possible. According to Fanta:

  • Roughly 2,000-plus people come to the Main Library every day and have a safe experience.
  • They have a full-time staff of trained security experts who are skilled at dealing w/ incidents when they do occur.
  • A patron code of conduct makes it clear what’s ok and what’s not at the library.
  • When warranted, the Nashville Public Library will suspend violators from the library.

A public hearing about the development proposal is underway tonight in Nashville. We'll have more on the meeting tonight on News4 at 10.

A final decision on the project is expected next month. Stay with the News4 I-Team for updates.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Lindsay Bramson joined News4 in June 2016 as an investigative reporter. She currently specializes in consumer issues.

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