Column: No home for the holidays

Not everyone will have a home to go to this holiday season. How is Knoxville addressing this issue?

"Hungry" by Jeremy Brooks is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The holidays bring thoughts of family, traditions and home-cooked meals for many. Unfortunately, some people will find themselves this holiday season with no shelter or food.

Homelessness is a common occurrence in most American cities, and Knoxville is no different.

According to the Knoxville Homeless Management Information System’s annual report, 9,183 people were homeless in 2018. In 2017, there were 8,938 homeless which is a 3% increase in Knoxville’s homeless population between the two years.

The main causes of homeless were the following: can’t find affordable housing (26%), loss of job (23%) and substance abuse (9%).

The KnoxHMIS Annual Report is a direct result of the research led by David A. Patterson, a University of Tennessee professor and director of the Clinical Doctorate Program.

“This year’s annual report documents the magnitude and scope of the complex challenges of addressing the needs for individuals and families experiencing homelessness,” Patterson said. “Moreover, the findings detail the community’s successes of moving some folks into permanent supportive housing and aiding others to be rapidly re-housed after falling into homelessness.”

Knoxville is not alone in struggling with the issue of homelessness. While there is no simple solution, there are steps that can be taken to help fix and reduce the number of people homeless in Knoxville.

Fortunately, the City of Knoxville has implemented a plan to address homelessness.

The main goals of Knoxville’s plan are the following: Provide leadership, create and maintain a variety of decent affordable housing, increase economic opportunities, improve the crisis response system and improve overall health and stability. These five goals will help not only reduce the number of people without housing but also raise awareness for this issue throughout Knoxville.

The Knoxville community can take time this holiday season to reflect on what can be done to help those in need.

Edited by Ainsley Kelso and Ciera Noe

Featured image courtesy of Jeremy Brooks of Creative Commons