The City of Knoxville and community service providers are increasing outreach and promoting shelter opportunities for people experiencing homelessness amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These new strategies coincide with cooler weather and increased dangers for those living on the streets.
“We are making a coordinated shift in how we assist people who are unsheltered during COVID-19,” said Mike Dunthorn, Homeless Program Coordinator for the City’s Office on Homelessness. “While open-air encampments can offer physical distancing, the health, sanitation and safety concerns are worsening for those living in such encampments – including the onset of colder weather.
“I am pleased that Knox Area Rescue Ministries, Volunteer Ministry Center and the Salvation Army have been able to work with Health Department guidance to modify their facilities to allow safer sheltering during the pandemic. Our immediate goal now is to try to get everyone we can into a healthy, sheltered space.”
City leaders and community partners expect these changes to mitigate the growing health, sanitation and safety concerns associated with encampments and facilitate a transition for our unsheltered neighbors into a safe, sheltered environment before dangerously cold weather sets in.