By JOHN McBRYDE
Franklin Community Church Pastor Kevin Riggs feels the time is right to move beyond discussion of a permanent homeless shelter in Franklin to actually building one.
To reach that next level, he has called for a community meeting that will take place Monday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. inside the Otey Hall of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Franklin.
He said he began hearing from numerous people after a recent article on homelessness in Williamson County appeared in The Tennessean.
“A lot of people have reached out and contacted me, wanting to know how they can get involved,” said Riggs, a leading advocate for the homeless population in Franklin and beyond.
“There are some things we want to share, to bring everybody up to date. We want to let everybody know what’s going on and give plans for how people can get involved.”
Riggs said the ultimate goal is to construct a shelter somewhere in the city limits of Franklin that will serve in many ways.
“The goal is a permanent shelter,” he said. “We want to make that as clear as possible. We’re not talking about an emergency shelter or a temporary shelter. We’re talking about a 365-day-a-year shelter.”
The facility would be more than just a place where homeless people could get out of the weather, Riggs explained. It would be a newer-model shelter that would bring a holistic approach to the problem of homelessness. The facility would provide help in a variety of ways — whether it’s for an addiction, for someone trying to get their GED, or someone needing help filling out paperwork to get aid for a disability. There would be counselors on hand; opportunities for job training and job placement; and there would be a spiritual component with churches providing mentoring.
Riggs sent an email Monday to a vast number of people, and he has heard from many saying they will be at the meeting next week.
“I told my church a couple weeks ago that we have been talking about a homeless shelter for years,” Riggs said, “and for the first time I think within the next year-and-a-half to two years we’ll actually have one. That’s exciting, that we’re actually going to be able to do something to address this problem.”