The facts (The problems facing homeless people in America, Knoxville & Tennessee-pt. 1)

The problems facing homeless people in Knoxville and Tennessee

There are many things that seem invisible to most eyes. “Out of sight, out of mind”, the old saying goes. This indeed is how it is with the homeless population of our Country. For some states, there are staggering statistics- such as in there being 134,278 homeless people in California on one given night in 2017, that being the worst state at the time. (Saying it another way, 25% of the National homeless people abide in California state.) See AHAR report pt. 1 2017 page 12.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD,; “HUD serves over 1 million people through emergency, transitional, and permanent housing programs each year. The total number of peoples who experience homelessness could be twice as high. There are four federally defined categories under which individuals and families might qualify as homeless:

  1. Literally homeless;
  2. Imminent risk of homelessness;
  3. Homeless under other Federal statutes; and
  4. Fleeing/attempting to flee domestic violence.”See

Also according to HUD, now from (Mainly from the 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report(s), or AHAR papers), we find that on a single night in 2017, (from the Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, or PIT count; AHAR pt. 1) 553,742 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. Approximately two-thirds (65%) were staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, and about one-third (35%) were in unsheltered locations. 553,742 is an increase of the number in 2016, which was was 549,928. However, both 2016 and ’17 were an improvement on 2015, when 564,708 people were homeless on a given night. In ’13, there were over 600,000

Again from the 2017 AHAR pt. 1 report, we find that In 2017, over one-fifth of people experiencing homelessness were children (21% of all homeless or 114,829 total homeless children), 70% were over the age of 24, and 10% were between the ages of 18 and 24. Children rarely were unsheltered. Nine in ten children experiencing homelessness were staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs.p. 8

We shall now discuss the unaccompanied homeless youth population of America. Following are some HUD/AHAR definitions, supplied for your further understanding.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (under 18) are people in households with only children who are not part of a family with children or accompanied by their parent or guardian during their episode of homelessness, and who are under the age of 18.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (18-24) are people in households without children who are not part of a family with children or accompanied by their parent or guardian during their episode of homelessness, and who are between the ages of 18 and 24.

Parenting Youth are people under age 25 who are the parents or legal guardians of one or more children (under age 18) who are present with or sleeping in the same place as that youth parent, where there is no person over age 24 in the household. Parenting Youth Household is a household with at least one parenting youth and the child or children for whom the parenting youth is the parent or legal guardian.

On a single night in january 2017, the unaccompanied homeless youth population (subsequently referred to as “uhyp” for my purposes) was 40,799 under the age of 25.

In addition, there were 9,436 parents and 12,152 children in families in which the parent was a youth. It should be noted that 88% of the uhyp were between the ages of 18 and 24, leaving only 12% under 18.

Compare the statistic 40,799 total uhyp in 2017 to 2016, when there were about 5,000 less uhyp- 35,686 total uhyp in 2016. In ’17, 22,257 uhyp were unsheltered. (More than were sheltered!)

Speaking strictly of parenting youth households, only 96 of the parenting youth were under 18. Including all parenting youth under 25, there were 9,436 parenting youth. They were, all ages combined, the guardians of 12,152 children. This is actually mostly good news, seeing that in 2016 there were 9,892 parents under 25- with 13,318 children.

In 2017, the uhyp were much more likely to be unsheltered (55%) than all people experiencing homelessness (35%) or people experiencing homelessness as individuals (48%). The younger unaccompanied homeless youth—people under age 18—are slightly more likely to be unsheltered (56%) than unaccompanied homeless youth age 18 to 24 (54%).

There are multiple races in the homeless population, to be expeced. White, African American, Multiple Races and Native Americans are the top four, respectively. This is nation-wide. Coming in at much smaller portions would be Asian or Pacific Islander.

Moving on now to Tennessee; to discuss the difficulties of the homeless living in Tennessee in specie, Knoxville and Knox County even more specifically. 

More information gleaned shows that Tennessee held 8,309 homeless in 2017, or between 1-2.9% of the National homeless population. In 2016, we held 8,779, in the same percentile (1-2.9%). In 2013 we held 9,528, again at 1-2.9% of the national popluation.. This shows slow and steady progression. Homelessness IS in the decline in Tennessee. But it took us 5 years to re-house these 1,219 once-homeless people. 

For many years, if not forever, Tennessee has been better off in the homeless dilemma than California and New York (Among other states.). California was ‘at the top of the chart’ (so to say) at 25%(134,278 people), of the national homeless population In 2017. In 2013 they held 3% less- 22% (136,826 people) of the national homeless population. Looking at the numbers, California actually isn’t digressing. But it’s the worst state for homelessness statistics. 

Although we’re ‘better off’ than California, we are worse off than a few other states, including but not limited to West Virginia, Kentucky and Missippi. These listed all came in at holding less than 1% of the homeless population in 2017. 

Moving on now to Tennessee’s percentage of the total national uhyp under the age of 25 in 2017. We held 457 uhyp. Not bad! But compare that to Mississippi – they held only 59.

Moving on more specifically to Knox county/ the Knoxville area- You should know that every geographical area theoretically has a CoC. CoC stands for Continuums of Care, which are local planning bodies responsible for coordinating the full range of homelessness services in a geographic area, which may cover a city, county, metropolitan area, or an entire state. Knoxville has one; it’s called the “KNOXVILLE HOMELESS MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM” or KNOX HMIS. 

According to KNOX HMIS’ website, there were 2,752 ‘literally homeless’ people in Knox county early 2018 (Quarter 1). That’s down 7.53% since late ’17!  Quarter 1 is from the beginning of january to the end of march. This is, 2,752 literally homeless , as compared to at-risk or currently housed. 

I found an article on, titled “73 youth homeless in Knox County; 19 on the street”, written april 25,2017, The title says it all. This ‘number’ is not extremely high. However, there is always the possibility of there being other homeless youth uncounted. 

For the first quarter of 2018, KNOX HMIS shows the following statistics; There were 435 youth served, 107 new, 55 at risk, 12 housed and 288 homeless. Of Veterans, 462 served, 40 new, 67 at risk, 28 housed and 313 homeless. Of all street homeless, there were 888 served, 180 new, 22 at risk, 27 housed and 778 homeless 

Again from KNOX HMIS, we find that nearly half of the sheltered homeless were in emergency shelter, while approximately a quarter each were either in transitional or permanent housing. (Q1 2018 Daily Average)

There are about 5+ homeless shelters in the Knoxville area. Some are as follows; Salvation Army’s Shafer Family Center for emergency housing (409 N. Broadway), the Helen Ross McNabb Center for transitioning from homelessness (201 W. Springdale Ave.), Family Promise of Knoxville, a Family Homeless Shelter ( 313 Harley Road) and the Knoxville Area Rescue Mission (KARM), a hope haven for women (418 North Broadway).

I can’t yet say I know of any place in Knox. Co. for homeless UN-accompanied youth to go, although parhaps most any place would give them a place to lay their head. 

The last shelter here listed, KARM, is quite controversial. Many would say that, with all their thrift-stores and the shelter, they are a great organization for the cause, as I suspected at first.

However, there is a newspaper out circulating in Knoxville (approximately once a month), entitled “The Amplifier”. ‘The Amplifier’ continually discusses the shortcomings, in their view, that KARM possesses, besides other issues that arise. (I recommend you buy a copy. I believe the suggested donation/price is $1. Worth it!)

According to those selling ‘The Amplifier’, KARM is rather judgmental as to who they take in, with tight unnecessary time restrictions as to when you can be on the premises. Some rules are of course neccesary. However, it’s not good if the rules inhibit the serice to these homeless.

Progressing on now, another problem facing the homeless is ‘the law’. Local8now reported that a Police Officer referred to the homeless population as “animals”. They provide video footage. Although this statement is said to not reflect the Police Force in it’s entirety, it is still unacceptable. The Officer apologized to those he spoke with (who were not homeless) about his terms. 

In addition to this disrespect from one individual, there are other problems to the homeless from the Government. Of course, Knoxville does have a government Coc/HMIS. This is a good word for them. As well, Tennessee passed a law that helps homeless school-aged people. It’s a measure prohibiting a school from denying a child admission because he or she has not been immunized or is unable to produce immunization records due to being homeless. That’s great.

But it isn’t all good. The city bulldozes the tent cities, that is, the tents out in the woods or under bridges, etc. erected by the homeless. I know it is unsightly; most would agree. But I argue we should not strive for “Out of sight out of mind”, but rather a solution in an instance like this…If not all instances.

Bulldozing does not make the problem go away, but rather makes it worse by making the homeless double homeless. They have to go find another some-what dry place to set-up ‘house’ and hope the city doesn’t come there next.

For more statistics, see Annual Homeless Assesment Report 2017

For a hugely highly reccommended book, visit link- The cross and the switchblade Also available other places.




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Lets hope soAbove photo accessed gregorian may 31,2018-

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.”

Shalom & have a great day,

-Yah’s girl


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