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Knoxville hopes input creates support for new homelessness plan | Families

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Knoxville hopes input creates support for new homelessness plan

By Eleanor Beck, WBIR

It's been eight years since Knox County and the City of Knoxville released what became a controversial, and ultimately shelved, plan to tackle issues surrounding homelessness. Now a new proposal is on the table.

The city released a 31-page report on homeless issues in Knoxville Thursday, establishing new goals with an increased emphasis on accountability, communication, and coordination between agencies.

READ MORE: Homelessness plan draft (PDF)

Mayor Madeline Rogero's office has created a page on the city's website where comments on the plan will be accepted for 45 days. The mayor's office will review the comments while finishing the plan and will conduct a public input session on at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 11th at the Cansler Family YMCA.

Knox Area Rescue Ministries President and CEO Burt Rosen was involved in the evolution of the first plan eight years ago, and the newly released proposal, and he says he believes one key difference is the extent to which the city is soliciting community involvement.

"The community felt disconnected from the process and was almost brought into it as an after thought," said Rosen of the 10-year plan."This is a draft plan that is now being put out for the community to respond to, rather than something that was perhaps perceived as a done deal before."

Mark Bradley credits Knox Area Rescue Ministries with saving his life after alcoholism and a car wreck left him without a home.

"I had a car accident which left me nearly paralyzed. My mother couldn't take it, and dropped me off here," said Bradley. Since then, he's graduated from the KARM

Launchpoint program and now is in the first class of their new transitional men's housing program.

He's sober, recovering his health, and hopeful that his future will include more stability and education. But he says getting to that point was difficult.

"When you get here, you're stunned, you're numb, you don't know where to go, you don't know what to do. And they're overwhelmed here," said Bradley.

The city's new plan strives to streamline the services by emphasizing communication and coordination between agencies. City of Knoxville Office on Homelessness Project Manager Michael Dunthorn says the mayor's roundtable discussion on homelessness has helped bring all the stakeholders together.

But he also says he's hopeful this plan will see greater success because it addresses a broader range of issues than eight years ago.

"This plan looks at the entire spectrum of the issue from people who are at risk of homelessness and we need to prevent homeless, to families, to the elderly," said Dunthorn.

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