Nashville Groups Patrol Streets, Helping Those Who Won’t Accept Shelter

Credit Jack Newton via Flickr

Credit Jack Newton via Flickr

More than 1,200 Nashvilians slept in shelters Sunday night as temperatures dropped into the single digits. At least one person was taken to the emergency room with frostbite, still others showed up at shelters with hospital bracelets on their wrists, having already been treated for conditions like pneumonia.

Finding Those Turned Away Elsewhere

Every time the temperature drops below 25 degrees, Open Table Nashville finds places to sleep for folks who usually aren’t allowed in shelters, like couples that want to stay together, people with pets, or those who have been banned from the Rescue Mission. For the current cold snap, chaplain Lindsey Krinks says the group is also stepping up its efforts to help people who refuse to come inside.

“We certainly want everyone to come in out of the cold for their own safety, but at least if they’re going to stay out, get them a heater, at least if they’re going to stay out, make sure that they’re going to be warm and safe, that they have the proper gear, and that they have people checking on them.”

Krinks says that means canvassing through the night, by her own group and the Rescue Mission’s so-called “Cold Patrol.”

Some Refuse

As for why people might refuse the offer of a warm place to stay, Krinks says the reasons range from mental illness to previous bad experiences staying at a shelter.

Krinks can recall a handful of instances in the last few years where homeless people in Nashville died due to exposure, often in clear view of traffic. She encourages anyone who sees a person in dangerous conditions to call for help.

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