Murfreesboro to Spend $150,000 of Taxpayer Money to Fight Homelessness

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Murfreesboro officials will use $150,000 of federal taxpayer money to address homelessness, although, when asked, city officials did not describe their specific goals or how they plan to use this money to get results.

City Council members voted this month to use a federal HUD grant to tackle homelessness in the city, according to a press release.

The $150,000 in grant funding plus an $11,250 administrative allowance allocation comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. The City of Murfreesboro was one of four jurisdictions in Tennessee eligible to apply, the press release said.

City spokesman Mike Browning did not tell The Tennessee Star specifically how city officials plan to use this money to get results.

The press release went on to say that on related grant funding, HUD also awarded an $18,503 grant to the city to support the Executive Director of the Housing, Health and Human Services Alliance of Rutherford County in planning initiatives such as coordination of activities and project monitoring.

H3ARC, through its member agencies, provides services to homeless individuals or individuals in danger of becoming homeless, the press release said.

As The Star reported last year, similar initiatives in Nashville and Memphis did not quite live up to government officials’ promises.

Six years ago, for instance, Nashville officials launched an initiative to end homelessness as we know it.

The program, part of the “How’s Nashville” campaign, promised homelessness would end before 2017.

Back in 2013, the city’s Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency paired up with the Metropolitan Homelessness Commission and announced 200 housing opportunities for the chronically homeless.

They offered an unspecified amount of federal taxpayer money, via Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant money.

Apparently, though, city officials didn’t get enough cash the first go-round.

Last summer, according to Nashville NBC affiliate WSMV, city officials announced yet another initiative to end homelessness, this time among young people, using $3.54 million of federal taxpayer money, again from HUD.

There were other times officials in Tennessee used taxpayer money to end homelessness as we know it.

In 2014, then HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced a $1.6 billion initiative to fight the problem. Exactly $18.1 million of that went to Tennessee. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, announced that 13 nonprofits in his hometown would get $4.3 million of that.

In 2015, homelessness in Tennessee not yet cured, Cohen bragged about getting even more federal taxpayer money to eradicate homelessness, this time $6.9 million through what was called a Continuum of Care program.

The program gave taxpayer money to nonprofits that serve the homeless.

One of the five nonprofit recipients was the Beers Van Gogh Center of Excellence in Memphis.

Homeless people who lived there organized a protest against the center because one of its employees allegedly engaged in acts of violence and widespread sexual harassment against residents, according to The Memphis Flyer.

According to The Flyer, center officials did nothing about the man until homeless residents protested.

This, the paper went on, was part of a larger problem with homeless service networks called “Play To Stay,” implying homeless residents must endure such treatment in exchange for assistance.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Murfreesboro” by Murfreesboro.











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