Homelessness in Rutherford County is usually thought of as someone living under a bridge, but experts say the problem is broader. It includes the fastest growing homeless population—families with children living in campgrounds, motels and cars. This month, “Murfreesboro Storytellers” host John Hood interviews three compassionate leaders in our community dedicated to addressing the problem of homelessness: Dr. William Kraus, Scott Foster and Kim Snell.
A 14-member executive committee composed of various agencies within the community gather regularly at Murfreesboro City Hall to address strategies for addressing both emergency and long-term homelessness.
William H. Kraus was named the new executive director of Housing, Health and Human Services Alliance of Rutherford County (H3ARC) in September. In his part-time role, Dr. Kraus is building connections and support from the variety of non-profit and faith-based agencies currently serving low income and homeless populations in Rutherford County, including United Way, Salvation Army, The Journey Home, Greenhouse Ministries, Cold Patrol, Stepping Stone and Family Promise, as well as the many public-sector services in local, state and federal government.
Scott Foster is executive director of The Journey Home, a Christian community outreach center for the homeless and at-risk residents of Rutherford County. Journey Home provides hot meals, a place to shower, wash clothes and receive mail for those lacking a stable home.
Kim Snell is liaison for Students for Academic Time Leads to Achieving Students (ATLAS) in the Rutherford County Schools. Her offices are located on the Barfield School campus.
The December episode of “Murfreesboro Storytellers” features:
- Homelessness is often stereotypically perceived as a problem associated with drug abuse and mental illness. Although that is true, families with children also experience homelessness in large numbers, including in Rutherford County.
- In the 2017-18 school year, more than 1,200 students in Rutherford County schools were considered by Academic Time Leads to Achieving Students (ATLAS) to lack a fixed, regular and/or adequate nighttime residence.
- Several organizations, churches to non-profits, are working together with many volunteers to reduce homelessness.
- A lack of affordable housing plays a significant role in homelessness in Rutherford County. Affordable Housing, as defined by HUD, relates to the ratio between income and housing cost. Those who spend more than 30 percent of income on housing, including utilities, are cost-burdened—more than 50 percent and HUD considers individuals or families severely cost-burdened.
The City of Murfreesboro comprehensive plan, Murfreesboro 2035, contains more information on addressing homelessness in Chapter 5. The Chapter is available on the City’s website here.
For information on the City’s Community Development Department, dedicated to benefiting low-and moderate-income residents with affordable housing and other assistance, visit the City’s website at www.murfreesborotn.gov.
“Storytellers” can also be seen on CityTV Sunday, 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Monday, 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 a.m.; Friday, 10:30 a.m; and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. You can watch “Storytellers” on CityTV (located on Comcast Xfinity Channel 3 and AT&T Uverse channel 99), on Roku, or simply view the program online by visiting www.murfreesborotn.gov/storytellers.
“Murfreesboro Storytellers” is hosted by John Hood and produced by award-winning video producer Michael Nevills.