Nashville landlords battle homelessness by renting to felons for $50 a month

Landlords in Nashville, Tennessee are taking on the problem of homelessness by renting to felons and addicts for as little as $50 a month.

American Public Media's Marketplace reported on Monday that many of the landlords had agreed to slash their rent for the homeless for a maximum of 30 percent of the renter's income, which often is only provided by Social Security.

Michele Bratcher, a recovering crack addict, told Marketplace that she was forced to live under highway overpasses and under a bush beside a church until she found an apartment through the program in Nashville.

"I'm a convicted felon," Bratcher explained. "Most places won’t even take you. And I’m not trying to go back. Been doing better. Just trying to keep my head above water, and it’s working."

Nearly 200 people have been placed as a part of the How's Nashville program since June. Nashville landlords were asked to put aside 1 percent of their units for the homeless.

It's part of a recovery approach called "Housing First" that asserts that people must overcome chronic homelessness before they can stabilize their lives.

Metro Homelessness Commission Director Will Connelly anticipated that 75 percent of those placed in the Nashville program would stay in their homes.

"A certain percentage will fall out of their housing," Connelly admitted. “They’ll get evicted, probably. I think if we provide the right amount of support, a majority of folks can succeed.”

Listen to the audio below from American Public Media's Marketplace, broadcast Oct. 7, 2013.

[Photo: Older homeless woman via]