In a world where everything goes right (most of the time) and each family can pay their bills on time and welcome a hot meal and warm bed, gratitude should be automatic. That is the case for most, but these basic life necessities can be taken for granted and losing any of them (if only for a short time) can be devastating.
Fortunately, Nashville is no longer gripped by the extreme poverty of early years when Big Brother Elmer Bryant reported delivering food to people “so hungry they were gnawing on bone.”
But in Music City today many of our neighbors struggle to meet their most basic needs. And as the cost of housing rises rapidly, Nashville natives can no longer afford to live in the neighborhoods where they grew up. Working people are pushed into public housing because it is all that they can afford. Waiting lists for affordable housing grow long for our poorest neighbors, leaving families homeless, living in motels, or doubled up in small apartments.
Amid the many service agencies is an amazing place known as ‘Needlink Nashville,’ which has been around since 1912. The Needlink mission and vision practically says it all: “NeedLink Nashville helps our neighbors meet basic needs in times of crisis by providing short-term assistance and links to other resources.
“Nashvillians in need can access assistance in time of crisis and can locate resources that help them create a more stable future.
“NeedLink helps people pay a past-due utility bill or income-based rent for one month, allowing them to see past the emergency and make a plan for the future.
“In order to use community resources wisely, NeedLink verifies all requests, makes payments directly to the landlord or utility company, and limits assistance to one time in a 12 month period.”
Of course each emergency situation is different. The detailed voice message system for those calling for assistance is easy to understand.
Like most community and social service programs, the funding depends on donations from the community to support these programs. Priority is given to single-parent families, seniors, and community members with disabilities.
The Needlink social workers work closely with the clients’ landlords or housing authorities and the utility company. Every applicant is treated with dignity and respect in an unbiased, compatible environment.
Approximately 100 people apply for assistance with water, gas, electric, and rent payments each week. They help as many people that the available funding will allow.
Needlink social workers see clients on Monday and Tuesday from 8 am to 2 pm.
Needlink Nashville is located on 51st St. in West Nashville, but they see clients from across the city. It is easily accessed via MTA Bus Route 15, Murfreesboro Road. Those who are 75 years old or older, or medically homebound can make arrangements by calling (615) 269-6835.