Shelter for homeless women and children in Murfreesboro is considered the number 1 need in our community by 26 community, ministry, and city leaders. There is more shelter space for homeless dogs, cats, and men in Murfreesboro than for women and children. It is the vision of The Way of Hope founders for every homeless woman and child in Murfreesboro to have food and a warm, safe place to sleep. The homeless shelters in Murfreesboro do a wonderful work and we are blessed to have them. Unfortunately, their space is limited especially for women and children. The shelter space remains full most of the year with long waiting lists in the winter. When these shelters were opened in 1993 and 1995, the population of Murfreesboro was less than 54,000. The 2010 census reports that the population of Murfreesboro has doubled to 108,000.
Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City Schools reported 948 children as homeless for the 2010-2011 school year. These children and their parents stay under bridges, in cars, tent cities, shelters, temporary housing, cheap motels and “couch surfing”. Couch surfing is a new term referring to people staying with friends, family and in some cases complete strangers. They will sleep on the floor or couches to avoid sleeping outside in the heat or cold. If a mother cannot find overnight shelter for her children she is considered unfit and her children can be taken away from her. This causes women to often place themselves and their children in potentially unsafe environments to keep them from being taken away.
A number of women and children become the victims of shocking crimes such as robbery, physical and sexual assault and rape while seeking shelter. Cheap motels have also become inundated with homeless men and women, often with the women resorting to prostitution in order to pay for their hotel room. One city official said, “We read the papers and hear the police reports. Local motels have become hot beds for criminal activity, especially against women and children.”
The majority of community, ministry and city leaders agree that the only long term solution is a new homeless shelter built and designed specifically for the needs of women and children. However, this could take up to three to five years to happen. A short-term solution is “Overflow Shelters”, which are churches that have opened their facilities to provide shelter for homeless women and children. They provide air mattresses, sheets, and a comforter, a hot dinner, breakfast and a sack lunch.
The Way of Hopeis the coordinator of the churches and the point of contact for the homeless seeking “Overflow Shelter”. There are a number of expenses involved in this endeavor. The Way of Hope is seeking funding through concerned citizens, churches, businesses and fund raisers. We are also in need of volunteers to help contact churches and businesses and to help with the fund raising activities.
If you would like to support The Way of Hope financially, volunteer your help, or have questions, please contact Brad Blomgren at (615) 653-8027.