Nashvillians now have a new way to give change to the homeless.
Change dropped into any one of 30 specially marked meters around Nashville will go to homeless outreach efforts through the city’s new Adopt A Meter campaign, an awareness and fundraising effort coordinated by the Metro Homelessness Commission’s Key Alliance.
Money donated through the meter program would be earmarked for the city’s chronically homeless in an ongoing effort to connect them with housing and services.
Metro Public Works donated the first 30 meters and will help install them in high foot-traffic areas.
Mayor Karl Dean unveiled the first donation meter Monday.
“Homelessness is not a government issue. It’s not a nonprofit issue. Homelessness is a community issue. And when we all work together, we can reduce homelessness in our city,” Dean said. “Outreach workers are an important part of that equation. They build relationships with individuals and connect them to not only housing, but the services they need to permanently transition out of homelessness.”
Nashville’s Adopt A Meter program follows the lead of similar programs in San Francisco and Denver. Clifton Harris, executive director of the Key Alliance, said Denver’s program has generated more than $100,000 annually since it began in 2007.
Harris said Nashville’s program would begin with 30 meters, each one sponsored by a company or organization for $1,000 a year. Southwest Airlines was the first company to sponsor a meter and will attach an art piece created by Ken Smith, one of the airline’s employees, to the meter.
Harris said Nashville now has 12 full-time outreach workers for an estimated 4,000 individuals who are homeless on any given night. The alliance’s last “point-in-time count” estimated about 1,250 chronically homeless people in Nashville.
The program’s first meters will be at Bridgestone Arena, Hard Rock Café, the Nashville Convention Center, the Nashville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Nashville Public Square, and Metro Courthouse and City Hall at James Robertson Boulevard.
Sponsors for those locations are John E. Mayfield Charitable Foundation, Kraft CPA’s, First Bank Online, Bone McAllester Norton, and Sherwin Williams.