By Cindy Solomon

Open Table staff and interns break ground for The Village of Glencliff in Nashville. When completed, The Village will provide micro homes for up to 24 adults experiencing homelessness. Money from a Golden Cross Foundation grant is being used to build two units that will be earmarked for older adults.

Open Table Nashville (OTN) received a grant for $60,000 from the Golden Cross Foundation, a non-profit corporation and extension ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. Money from this grant is being used to build two of the 22 micro homes at The Village of Glencliff located on the grounds of Glencliff United Methodist Church (UMC) in Nashville. Each Golden Cross Foundation micro home is earmarked for older adults experiencing homelessness.

Founded in 2010, OTN is a non-profit, interfaith community that disrupts cycles of poverty, journeys with the marginalized, and provides education about issues of homelessness. To date, OTN staff have helped more than 700 people move from the streets to permanent housing. “While we have helped hundreds of people find permanent housing, we have also held dozens of funerals for our friends who died on the streets while they were waiting to access permanent housing,” said UMC Pastor Ingrid McIntyre, OTN’s co-founder and executive director.

“Homelessness exacerbates health problems, complicates treatment, and disrupts the continuity of care; homeless persons are three to four times more likely to die prematurely than their housed counterparts. Since 2010, our team has dreamed of place that would allow the most medically vulnerable people to have a safe and supportive place while they wait for permanent housing.”

The Village of Glencliff found its forever home after OTN staff moved into office space at Glencliff UMC in 2016. “As the friendship grew between OTN staff and church members, so did a sense of urgency to create better options for and to be in ministry with people who are medically vulnerable and experiencing homelessness,” said McIntyre. “The church offered to use a portion of their land to help provide bridge housing in the form of The Village of Glencliff.”

When completed, The Village at Glencliff will consist of 22 micro homes—each with a kitchen and bathroom. One of the units will be used as an office and a clinic and another will provide laundry facilities. The remaining 20 homes will be comprised of 16 single-occupancy (200 square feet) and four double-occupancy (400 square feet) units, complete with wheelchair-accessible floor plans.

Blending two residential models—bridge housing and medical respite—The Village can provide individuals with community, treatment, education, and training while they wait for a permanent housing option. “While the ideal length of stay is 90 days or less,” said McIntyre, “due to the severe lack of affordable housing options in Nashville, we anticipate residents will stay longer while waiting for their move-in date.”

The medical respite facet of The Village will provide short-term residential care for people who are too ill or frail to recover from an illness or injury on the streets but are not ill enough to be in the hospital. “Residents have the opportunity to rest in a safe environment while accessing medical care and other supportive services, often preventing further complications or death,” said McIntyre. For some, The Village may serve as hospice space for people needing end-of-life care rather than permanent housing.

“We will house the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness at the Village. The Vulnerability Index, a nationally recognized tool used to measure vulnerability of people experiencing homelessness, is taken by each person we work with. Residents of The Village will be people who are currently receiving hospital care and will be referred to us by our hospital partners. It will enable people who are most likely to die on the streets to find respite until permanent, sustainable, and supportive housing can be identified.”

Overseeing The Village, a care coordinator will connect residents with services and resources for issues such as trauma, mental health, substance abuse, stable income, nutrition, and emotional/spiritual wellness. Treatment, education, and skills training will be offered to individuals according to each resident’s stated goals and current stage in the change process.

Goals for the first year of operation (expected opening is early fall 2019) include:

  • 90 percent of residents reporting improvements in their quality of life after moving in
  • 75 percent of residents moving into a permanent living situation upon leaving The Village
  • 50 percent of residents residing at The Village for six months or more who didn’t have health insurance leaving with access to health insurance
  • 50 percent of residents residing at The Village for six months or more who didn’t have income leaving with increased income
  • 90 percent of residents with prior hospitalizations in the last year experiencing a decrease in both the number of hospitalizations and the length of their hospitalizations after moving into The Village
  • 90 percent of residents with prior arrests in the last year experiencing a decrease in arrests after moving into The Village
  • 95 percent of residents reporting satisfaction with The Village staff and services

Supported by The United Methodist Church, McIntyre hopes The Village at Glencliff will become a sustainable model that can be reproduced by groups in other areas. “We are thankful for the support and grant we received from the Golden Cross Foundation,” said McIntyre. “Through programs like The Village, we can provide a dignified, loving, and hospitable bridge between housing and medical respite for people experiencing homelessness so they are empowered to focus on healing and permanent supportive housing.”