PHOTO: Franklin Community Church Kevin Riggs led a presentation in late February to spell out a plan to build a permanent homeless shelter somewhere in Franklin. A recent development has helped to move the plan forward. / Photos by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
Pastor Kevin Riggs of Franklin Community Church said Friday that the effort to build a permanent homeless shelter in Franklin took critical steps forward after he had met with three different groups of people who are interested in being major sponsors and donors for the project.
In a newsletter sent to those who have signed up with the Williamson County Homeless Alliance, Riggs said he and the groups discussed location, cost, best practices and other logistics of the proposed shelter.
“As a result of these discussions, we are in the process of writing an official business plan for the permanent shelter,” Riggs said in the newsletter that was emailed Friday morning.
He later told the Franklin Home Page that he was encouraged by this development.
“We’re working on a more formal business plan that outlines what we’re looking for, to give these investors,” Riggs said. “That’s really encouraging because you’re talking about people with resources that can really help get this going.”
Riggs and others in the Homeless Alliance presented a plan to the community in late February that would lead to the construction of a permanent homeless shelter in Franklin.
The shelter would be open every day and would be more than just a place where homeless people could get out of the weather, Riggs said at the time. It would be an updated shelter model that would bring a holistic approach to the problem of homelessness. The facility would provide help in a variety of ways.
In addition to Riggs, the Homeless Alliance is made up of others from the community, including nonprofits and businesses. Among those on the advisory team are Brandy Blanton, city of Franklin alderman at large and development director for the High Hopes Development Center, and Williamson Inc. President and CEO Matt Largen.
In another development, Franklin First United Methodist Church has worked with Riggs to open an emergency shelter at its location off Mack Hatcher Parkway to accommodate people who are homeless whenever temperatures get above 90 degrees or below 32. It would begin Aug. 1.
Churches throughout the region have, for years, provided shelter during the winter months through programs such as Room in the Inn, but this is the first in Williamson County to open the door during extremely hot conditions.
“We’ve never done a shelter for heat,” Riggs said. “The heat can be bad. I don’t want to say it’s worse than the cold, but it could be. You could die of a heat stroke just as much as you could by freezing. But the uncomfortableness of it, not being able to take a shower when it’s hot and humid, can take a toll on you physically and emotionally.”
He added, “I’m extremely grateful that Franklin First has offered this opportunity.”