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I need assistance. Where can I find information about local resources?

If you are in need of assistance, please call 211 (or 865-215-4211) or you can visit  EastTN211.org.

I am at risk or actively being evicted. What should I do?

Information on your rights as a tenant during an eviction process can be found here. Additionally, please visit the Renter Resource Center for information on the Knox Housing Assistance program that provides rent and utility support to households facing eviction who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does the City’s Office on Homelessness do?

The City's Office on Homelessness convenes and coordinates community service providers around shared goals and strategies to address homelessness. The Mayor hosts a quarterly Roundtable on Homelessness meeting at which agency leadership can share information, coordinate efforts and ensure accountability to one another and the Knoxville community. Meetings are open to the public and listed on the City’s events calendar.

What is Knoxville’s Coordinated Entry System / CHAMP?

The Coordinated Entry System is a multi-agency intake and assessment process that helps connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness with the best available resources and housing in the community. The process ensures those with greatest service needs and vulnerability are prioritized for the appropriate resources and housing. Our local Coordinated Entry System is called CHAMP (Coordinated Housing Assessment and Match Plan). The diagram below shows how CHAMP helps people connect with the resources and housing that best fits their needs.

How much does the City of Knoxville spend to address homelessness?

In the last 12 months, the City has committed more than $6,800,000 to address homelessness. Resources include nearly $1,000,000 in local funding, as well as $5,800,000 in federal funding, including COVID-related funding for homelessness and homelessness prevention. In addition, the City also applies for approximately $1.3 million in federal “Continuum of Care” grant funds annually that go directly from HUD to area partner agencies.

Does the City of Knoxville own or operate homeless shelters?

No. Social service providers in the community offer several shelter and housing options for people experiencing homelessness in the Knoxville area. View a list of providers and their contact information here.

What is the current COVID-19 policy regarding homelessness?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, local shelters have worked with the Knox County Health Department to make their facilities safe for staff and guests. Additionally, the City has worked with local providers to implement multiple programs to reduce the risks of transmission including a non-congregate shelter, mobile shower trailers, and the COVID-19 Guest House.

Is shelter available for homeless people who have COVID-19?

Yes. The COVID-19 Guest House is a shelter for people who are either waiting for COVID-19 test results or who are COVID-positive and recuperating.

Where can I find information about emergency shelter bed utilization?

The Knoxville Community Dashboard on Homelessness, operated by KnoxHMIS, provides quarterly data analysis on the use and availability of emergency shelter beds.

What is the “White Flag” policy, and how does it address people’s needs during extremely hot or cold weather?

When temperatures are extreme (below 32° in winter and above 90° in summer), Knox Area Rescue Ministries, The Salvation Army, and Volunteer Ministry Center enact the White Flag policy. During White Flag conditions, these providers encourage all people experiencing homelessness to seek shelter indoors. Programs relax rules to allow individuals to come inside for the day or night, even if these individuals might not be allowed in the program under other conditions. In addition, providers create overflow space to ensure that anyone who wants to come indoors can. (per Knoxville Knox County Homeless Coalition)

What percentage of people experiencing homelessness in Knoxville are “street” homeless?

Although the number fluctuates throughout the year, our latest Point-in-Time count identified 1,178 individuals experiencing homelessness on Feb. 23, 2022. Of those identified, 68% were sheltered and 32% were unsheltered (street homeless).

What’s the difference between street homeless and chronically homeless?

An individual is considered street homeless (unsheltered) if their “primary nighttime residence is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regularly sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground.” (HUD 2019) “Chronically homeless” refers generally to long-term homelessness, using criteria including disability status, primary nighttime residence, and length/frequency of homelessness. Therefore, individuals who are street homeless can also be chronically homeless, but not everyone is who street homeless is chronically homeless. In fact, chronically homeless individuals only comprised 43% of our street homeless population during the 2022 Point-in-Time Count.

What is the City’s policy on “tent camps”?

Living in a tent is prohibited in the City of Knoxville. Tents and other makeshift structures can’t provide the basic levels of health, safety and sanitation required for long-term human habitation. These challenges are compounded as the number of occupants in a tent encampment increases, resulting in unhealthy and unsafe conditions for inhabitants, as well as an increase in criminal activity that affects both people living in encampments, nearby residents and businesses, and the environment.

How much notice do people living in camps get when they’re told to move?

The City provides 72-hour notice on public property that is not already posted with “no trespassing” signage. Encampments on private property are asked to relocate within a timeframe determined by the landowner. The City attempts to coordinate efforts for notice with private property owners.  

What happens during the cleanup of a homeless camp?

Following official notice through “no trespassing” signage or 72-hour notice to occupants, Public Service crews arrive to remove any items and waste remaining in the area.

How does the City decide when to conduct a cleanup?

Environmental degradation, public health issues, and public safety drive the decision to conduct a cleanup in order to address hazards facing those living in a homeless camp as well as surrounding neighbors and businesses.

What about camps on private property?

Camping without permission on private property is trespassing. Moreover, tent camping on private property, with or without permission by the owner, is a Codes violation. The City has adopted Building Codes to ensure protection of public health, safety, and welfare in Knoxville’s environment. The City’s role is to balance the interests of all Knoxville residents. Codes violations by one property owner can infringe on the health and safety of their neighbors.

How can people living in encampments get help?

Local street outreach workers make regular contact with people living in encampments throughout the city. They offer connections to shelter, housing and services like drug treatment programs, health care, job skills training, and more. Most importantly, outreach teams provide access to our local Coordinated Entry System called CHAMP (Coordinated Housing Assessment and Match Plan); see above. This system allows providers to prioritize individuals seeking assistance based on vulnerability and direct them to an appropriate housing option. Individuals experiencing homelessness can also call 211 (or 865-215-4211) to receive a direct referral to agencies that provide needed services.

How can I help?

All of our partners welcome volunteers and donations. To be as effective as possible at helping people in need, it is always a good idea to start with the people already working with the population needing help the most. By coordinating efforts and building on what is already being done, even small gifts of time or money can go a long way toward helping people end their homelessness long-term. Please contact one of our community’s homeless service providers to find out what kind of donations make the most difference to our unhoused neighbors. To find a homeless service provider visit this site and enter a zip code or Knox County.

What is the BHUCC (“Bee-Huck”) and how is it different from jail?

The Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center (BHUCC) is a diversion program that provides immediate access to mental health, substance use and co-occurring illnesses for adults arrested with low-level misdemeanor charges in Knoxville and Knox County. The BHUUC provides local law enforcement with a safe place to take individuals in lieu of incarceration. The program provides 23-hour stabilization through access to treatment and medication. Once a person is discharged, the program may provide treatment through intensive case management to address housing and employment needs. The goal of the program is to interrupt the cycle of incarceration, and increase access to behavioral health treatment. The BHUCC is different from jail because it is a stand-alone facility operated by Helen Ross McNabb Center, and not part of the Knox County Detention Center. Participation in the BHUCC is voluntary.