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The Mission District


Photo by Shawn Poynter, Shawn Poynter

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  • Absent a  mandate, hundreds of street people and the Salvation Army, Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries (KARM), and Volunteer Ministry Center (VMC) will have to co-exist with a new plan for commercial prosperity and pedestrian walkways.
  • Redevelopers will have to plan within the context of the homeless who are already in the area.
  • Of the estimated 1,352 homeless in Knoxville on a given day in February 2006, 66 percent usually slept at a shelter, 21 percent outside, 20 percent with friends and relatives, 7 percent in cars, and 7 percent in abandoned buildings. (The total does not equal 100 due to multiple responses.)
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  • At 51 percent in 2006, the number of homeless people in Knoxville born in Tennessee is fairly consistent with the general population born in the state (63 percent), undermining the argument that homeless flock to the area from other places. At the same time, 18 percent in a 2006 study identified the availability of treatment and social services as an important factor in their decision to come to Knox County.
  • In June 2008, Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries provided 10,042 nights of shelter, served 27,187 meals, and had 56 professions of faith compared with 9,074 nights of shelter, 30,163 meals and 24 professions of faith in the same month last year.
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  • Volunteer Ministry Center director Ginny Weatherstone stands inside the gutted Fifth Avenue Hotel, which will be remodeled into a complex of 57 one-bedroom apartments and efficiencies named Minvilla as part of the Knoxville/Knox County Mayors’ 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.
  • According to the report entitled 'Homelessness in Knoxville/Knox County: A Twenty Year Perspective 1986-2006,' by Roger M. Nooe: 'There is often an impression that people are homeless because they want to be or prefer the lifestyle. While there are obviously some who choose to be homeless, the number is quite small, likely less than 5 percent.'

Can urban renewal, businesses, the homeless, and the shelters that serve them co-exist in the planned Downtown North district?

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