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Nashville Woman Goes on Hunger Strike to Protest Control of Finances -- Kai Beech

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Jen Johnson spent the past four months tending her tomato plants. And although it's harvest time, she refuses to eat them.

Someone will get to enjoy it," Johnson said. Even if it's not me."

Johnson is upset because she says the Mental Health Co-Op put a case worker in charge of her finances and living arrangements. Now, she says, she feels like a prisoner in her own home.

"I know how to pay my bills.  I know how to budget," Johnson said. I don't need a payee."

Johnson gets about $700 a month from Social Security, which is enough pay for Section 8 housing and still have money left over for personal things like her art supplies.

Its one of the ways I express myself," she said. Sometimes I think about my childhood."

Johnson's money is handled by Park Center Nashville; a private contractor that rents the house she lives in.

Theyre not reliable," she said. They don't know me and they don't know what I need to be happy."

Johnson says she's never been found legally incompetent. She says Park Center made that determination and refuses to budge.

Johnson's hoping her hunger strike will force someone to take notice. For the past four days shes been on a diet of water, green tea and chicken broth.

We called Park Center and the Mental Health Co-Op for comment. The Co-Op said it couldn't discuss Johnson's case. Park Center released a statement saying it would continue to work closely with Johnson to try to resolve her concerns."

But Johnson doesn't buy it.

They just take you to a mental hospital, drug you and no one ever hears from you," she said. They can do whatever they want to you because youre a mental health patient. Whos going to believe you?"


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