City Council approves grant to aid HIV/AIDS victim housing

Jim York, Finance Director, gives the final funding report on general obligation bonds at the Knoxville City Council Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 30.
Jim York, Finance Director, gives the final funding report on general obligation bonds at the Knoxville City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Knoxville City Council authorized the mayor, Madeline Rogero, to execute an agreement with local nonprofit organization Positively Living Inc. during their meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Due to Rogero’s absence, vice mayor, Nick Palvis presided over the meeting and stood in favor of the agreement with the Knoxville-based charity. The agreement will afford $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for building rehabilitation that will permit the addition of five more living units to its current 16,000 square foot East Fifth Avenue facility.

Becky Wade, director of community development, invited Steve Jenkins, executive director of Positively Living Inc., to provide the council with some background information on the organization.

“Positively Living has been around since the mid-1990s, and serves victims struggling to cope with the challenges created by HIV/AIDS, homelessness, mental illness, disabilities, and other health conditions,” said Jenkins.

The upkeep of the facility is vital in carrying out the organizations key efforts which, according to the Positively Living Inc. website, include “providing case management, supportive housing, food service, and mental health/addiction counseling to individuals who are homeless; mentally ill; addicted to drugs, alcohol, or other substances; and/or living with HIV/AIDS.”

The Knoxville Community Development Department is able to fund building projects through the Community Development Block Grant program. The CDBG is the second largest funding source in the department’s consolidation plan. In 2013, the city expended a total of $1,620,637  in CDBG funds. Other funding sources for the department include HOME Investment Partnerships Program and Emergency Solutions Grant.

Knoxville’s Community Development Department administers a variety of programs geared toward the revitalization of Knoxville’s low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. In order for resources to have the greatest impact, the Department targets its programs to strategy areas that are selected periodically. To learn more, click here.

Edited by Jessica Carr


Downtown street performer gets ordinance involving masks amended

An illusionist and costume designer is still able to perform after his meeting with the City Council of Knoxville about an ordinance that bans wearing masks in public.

Justin Webb, street performer, has performed in Market Square for around three months. He dresses up as spiderman and ironman. Webb claims he never had any problems with the police until recently when KPD Officer S. Frazier issued a citation for wearing a mask. The citation has no detail other than the ordinance number, City Code 19-62, and the words “Mask (Spiderman).”

“It was a $115 ticket, and I was not just going to pay it,” Webb said.

The ordinance basically states, no mask or other devices can be worn on public or private property.

“The ordinance is far too ambiguous. The way it’s written, it would apply to anyone. It could be medical gear, religious head dresses, even Vol fans with their faces painted orange. I just want my freedom of expression,” says Webb.

Vague laws give police discretion, making citizen’s confused on what the laws actually are. This meeting gave a better understanding of what people can and can’t do.

As Webb approached the stand he gave his thanks to the City Council members.

“It’s very rewarding and hopeful to see that people are willing to work for the common good for the small people. As small as we performers may be. You have my deepest gratitude whether it is opposed or approved. I appreciate it.”

The City Council approved for the ordinance to be removed. The law has been amended. He is now allowed to perform in full costume. He has to remove mask and show identification when asked.

“I think tonight showed, when you show them the proper respect, they will show it back. It is unconstitutionally applied. I am more than grateful,” Webb expressed.

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Justin Webb dressed as Ironman.

City Council members during the decision of approval or denial of the ordinance.