Old Homelessness Plan vs. New Homelessness Plan: What Are the Key Differences?

How is Knoxville's Plan to Address Homelessness different from the defunct Knoxville-Knox County Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness?

The two plans, released a decade apart, have a coherent theme: reduce homelessness. They also have some similar goals, like increase coordination among agencies, increase economic opportunities, and ultimately prevent homelessness. But the populations each plan seeks to help are different. The Ten Year Plan's target population had a very specific set of needs laid out in that plan. The new plan, however, broadens the focus to the entire homeless population, so its strategies are adjusted accordingly.

Here's a breakdown of where the two plans diverge:

• Both plans call for engagement from the community, and collaboration among agencies, mostly through neighborhoods, businesses, community feedback, and the HMIS system. However, the new plan specifically calls for political leadership to make sure these things happen. The Ten Year Plan relied on the plan's leadership.

• Both plans seek to prevent homelessness, though the new plan calls for "improvement in the crisis response system." There was less focus on the Ten Year Plan's prevention strategies, which included ideas such as support services for rent and utilities. That same idea is carried over into the new plan, and is receiving more attention through the IBM Smarter Cities Initiative. The new plan is also more specific about which groups could be targeted for assistance.

• The new plan does not call specifically for new housing similar to Minvilla Manor and Flenniken Landing. Michael Dunthorn, Knoxville's director of the office on homelessness, also says there are no such plans up the city's sleeve. But the new plan does say a strategy to prevent homelessness is to rapidly rehouse people who have lost their homes. It's not quite the "housing first" approach advocated by the Ten Year Plan. Instead, the new plan emphasizes improving existing stock of affordable housing, incentivizing its creation in the private market, and maintaining sustainable access to that housing. The Ten Year Plan called for both new units and converting existing housing into permanent, supportive housing.

• The Ten Year Plan and the new plan take pretty similar positions on increasing economic opportunities. The new plan seeks to build on existing programs that help people find work, and adds the idea of encouraging businesses to hire formerly homeless people with tax credits.

• The new plan directly addresses something the Ten Year Plan implied: improving the health and stability of people experiencing homelessness. The Ten Year Plan established the goal of incorporating hospitals into the Knox HMIS, and the new plan adds that goal also. But the new plan goes further to utilize health services to keep people from falling into homelessness. It seeks to do that by expanding access to affordable health services.