Homeless Help sign

People experiencing homelessness in Williamson County will be returning to churches for emergency shelter beginning in January, nearly two years after the ministry had to be altered because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Franklin Community Development, the ministry arm of Franklin Community Church, launched the program in August 2019 as a way to provide housing for those experiencing homelessness when outdoor temperatures either reached below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees. The ministry had lasted just a few months before it was forced to shift in March 2020 with the start of the pandemic.

Through a number of emergency grants from local, state and federal governments, shelter has since been provided in area hotels. However, those grants are coming to an end.

Kevin Riggs, pastor at Franklin Community Church and director of the Williamson County Homeless Alliance, has been working with churches to resume emergency shelter options starting next month. Three have committed to serve — Historic Franklin Presbyterian Church, Franklin First United Methodist Church and Church at West Franklin —and Riggs is working out details and logistics with seven others.

“We believe using churches provides a better opportunity to get to know our friends experiencing homelessness and to provide a more holistic approach to meeting their needs,” Riggs said.

Considering average summer and winter temperatures in Middle Tennessee, Riggs said he expects there to be 100 nights through the year when emergency shelters are necessary due to extreme cold or heat.

The program costs about $300 per night, and since grants are no longer available, people are asked to donate to the ministry by clicking here.

Meanwhile, the Homeless Alliance will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new transitional group home next Thursday at 10 a.m.

Known as the John and Joyce McMillan House, it is located at 599 West Meade Blvd. in Franklin. The nonprofit has set up a house warming registry through Amazon.