Council faces homeless issue

Friday, February 12, 2010

Homeless people have been living in at least one laundromat and/or at a city park restroom, according to comments reported Tuesday at Lewisburg's City Council meeting.

"Most people don't think we have a problem with this," Councilman Quinn Brandon Stewart told the Council during its monthly meeting as she introduced Millie Miller, proprietor of the Celebration Inn.

Miller has apparently developed a "reputation" as the woman who will help people, the businesswoman said. She's called city police about what to do about someone homeless as a result of drug abuse, but apparently there's no policy.

A prominent businessman advised Miller he's found someone living in a coin-operated laundry in Lewisburg, Miller told the Council, conceding she's not seen that, but that she knows homeless people

"I don't mind doing my share," Miller said, turning to a more compelling situation.

A woman and her two children were evicted for non-payment of rent as a result of harsh economic conditions. The three lived at the inn for about a week to avoid disrupting the children's education if they stayed at a homeless shelter in Tullahoma.

"It is a real problem" for single mothers raising children, she said. "How can you raise a kid without a home?"

Faced with a Lewisburg native, and life-long resident, who stood up in public saying that there are a lot of empty buildings in town that might house people, the Council explored the issue, but soon realized it was impossible to reach a conclusion that night.

Given that, the Council agreed to meet at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday in City Hall to continue the discussion.

Attending the meeting Tuesday night with Miller was Kellye Gilbert, an official with Haven of Hope, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. That service is headquartered in Manchester, operates a shelter in Tullahoma and provides services twice a week here. It serves other counties including Bedford, Lincoln and Franklin.

Haven of Hope usually focuses first on domestic abuse issues, but homelessness is frequently a result of abuse, she said.