Forming an unlikely duo, Mayor Karl Dean and Tennessee Titans star running back Chris Johnson have teamed up to fight homelessness.
Dean and Johnson were filmed Tuesday at the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge as part of a television public service announcement for The Key Alliance, a nonprofit fundraising arm of the Metro Homelessness Commission. The group reached out to Dean and Johnson.
“Their message is a call to the community to join The Key Alliance,” said Judith Tackett, the organization’s communications director.
For $25, anyone can join The Key Alliance and become a key supporter of the group, she said. The goal of the organization is to find permanent solutions to homelessness in Nashville. Those interested can sign up at www.thekeyalliance.org.
“We’re about getting people off the streets one person at a time,” Tackett said.
The Key Alliance’s primary initiative is known as “Housing First.” The program seeks to take individuals and families living on the street and find them permanent housing. In their new homes, a master-level social worker provides one-on-one case management.
“Regardless of where they are in their life, we offer them that,” she said.
Tackett said she did not know when the public service announcement would begin airing or whether TV channels would carry it. She said the spot will be viewable online.
Janel Lacy, Dean’s press secretary, said the mayor was happy to take part in the public service announcement, adding that he’s shown strong support for The Key Alliance in the past.
“We shoot PSAs all the time,” Lacy said. “It’s not often we get a chance to shoot a PSA with someone of Chris Johnson’s caliber. We thought it was a good opportunity and a chance to promote something that’s important to the mayor and the city.”
Dean recently hired Tam Gordon, a special assistant to former Gov. Phil Bredesen, to help launch a new poverty initiative within the mayor’s office. Lacy said the public service announcement is not part of the same program.