October 7, 2005 - Knoxville Mayor Bill
Haslam and Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale announced today that they
will appoint a director to bring together the federal, state and local
resources necessary to implement a plan to end chronic homelessness
over the next 10 years.
The Knoxville and Knox County Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness
emphasizes coordination among agencies serving homeless individuals,
and stresses accountability for results. Move people into housing first - and then address issues impacting
the individual such as mental illness, chemical addictions, education
and employment. This approach is almost a reverse from what is occurring
currently - permanent housing is reserved as an incentive for the
homeless individuals. The task force notes that without the stability
of housing, other services do not yield good results.
An advisory board comprised of public and private service providers,
non-profit organizations and donors will also be appointed to aid
"Ending chronic homelessness in our community requires participation
of all stakeholders in addressing this problem in a different way
than we have before," Mayor Ragsdale said. "Resources
are not unlimited, and it's imperative that we work together to
ensure no duplication exists among services delivered by agencies."
Mayor Haslam, "We appointed this task force a year ago with
the understanding that the 'status quo' was not going to solve this
growing dilemma. The next step is for public and private service
providers, and the faith-based community, to take ownership of this
plan and move forward together to end chronic homelessness, and
ultimately prevent homelessness in Knoxville and Knox County."
The task force full implementation of a Homeless Management Information
System (HMIS), an Internet-based database that shelters, housing
providers, service agencies and others who work with the homeless
can share client information and better coordinate case management.
Roll-out of this system has already begun over the past year.
Chronically homeless is defined as individuals who have been homeless
for more than a year or who have been repeatedly homeless.
While these individuals account for just 10 percent of the homeless
population, they utilize 50 percent of the resources, including
emergency medical services, psychiatric treatment, detox facilities,
shelters, law enforcement and correctional facilities.
This relatively small population puts inordinate stress on the social
service system, leaving little resources to serve those who are
incidentally homeless or to prevent homelessness.
Dr. Roger Nooe, of the University of Tennessee College of Social
Work, served as the task force's chairman, and Mike Dunthorn, of
the City of Knoxville, as the vice chair.
"This plan offers a framework for ending the institution of
homelessness," Dr. Nooe stated. "By increasing the availability
of permanent housing, providing coordinated case management and
linking homeless persons to community resources, Knoxville and Knox
County can reduce chronic homelessness and perhaps more importantly,
prevent others from becoming chronically homeless."
Other strategies recommended by the task force:
Stop discharging people into homelessness. Work with the foster
care system, mental health hospitals, emergency rooms, and jails
to develop a procedure where individuals are linked to community
services before they are released.
Increase coordination and effectiveness of service. Individuals
should enter the provider system through a single point, have one
case manager, and agencies should specialize in their functions.
Increase economic opportunities. Assess individuals income, education
and employability when they enter the system, and determine needs
of further training. Develop basic skills training programs and
provide potential employers with certificate attesting to their
Members of the task force were: Major Dewey Alderson, The
Salvation Army; Susan Brown, formerly of Rural/Metro Corp.; Susan
Fowlkes, Community Health Services; John Gill, Knox County District
Attorney's Office; Michele Hummel, Central Business Improvement
District; Barbara Kelly, Knoxville-Knox County Community Action
Committee; Alvin Nance, Knoxville's Community Development Corp.;
Chief Sterling Owen IV and Lt. David Rausch, Knoxville Police Department;
Mintha Roach, Knoxville Utilities Board; Burt Rosen, Knox Area Rescue
Ministries; Frank Rothermel, Denark Construction; Elisabeth Rukeyser,
mental health advocate; J. Laurens Tullock, Cornerstone Foundation;
and Ginny Weatherstone, East Tennessee Coalition for the Homeless.
Homelessness in Knoxville and Knox County By the Numbers:
900 people sleep in emergency shelters, on the street, in cards,
in transitional housing, or double up with friends on any given
1,900 people will experience homelessness over the course of
the month (an increase from 800 persons in 1986)
Between, 8,000 and 9,000 will experience homelessness at one
time over the course of a year
10 percent of those who are homeless are chronically homeless
- people who have been homeless for over one year or who has been
repeatedly homeless. This segment of the population consumers more
than 50 percent of the resources including emergency medical services,
psychiatric treatment, detox facilities, shelters, law enforcement
Thirteen percent of this chronic group had children with them
3,800 to 5,000 people a year are arrested for public intoxication.
Fewer than 80 individuals - each arrested six more times - account
for one-fourth of those arrests. Seven individuals have 100 or more
arrested during the past five years.
One-fourth of youth leaving foster care at age 18 will be homeless
within a year.