Homeless Moving Out of Downtown Area

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Knoxville (WVLT) - Many of Knoxville’s homeless are on the move.

As Volunteer TV’s Jim Freeman explains, they're leaving Downtown, and setting up camps in the suburbs.

It's not a crime issue, at least not yet, but it's no secret, urban sprawl now applies to the homeless population as well.

"There used to be a homeless camp right here and you can kinda look right here, all this stuff right here and where all that other guy's trash came from. That's where most this trash came from,” says Chris Maxey who works at Cedar Bluff Cycles. “We called him Johnny. He was just an alcoholic. He was actually a pretty good guy."

Over the years, Chris has met a few of the neighboring homeless.

"Now don't be mad 'cause his home might be better than ours,” Chris says.

Plus he has the sounds of nature with a little traffic noise.

"Pretty nice place,” Chris says.

From a distance, it looks like a block structure.

"No, it's all wood. It's pretty solid. You can't push it over or nothing. But he's got beds built-up. Used to have kerosene heaters. All kinds of stuff,” Chris says. "You can see he's definitely got a home set up in there."

Homeless camps, when you hear that term you often think of maybe inner city or close to downtown areas. You don't always think of a wooded area next to a shopping center on Kingston Pike.

"There's a trail that goes right there back to Kingston Pike ‘cause they made him quit coming in through the parking lot, and they used to come in right here. So they took and built them another trail so they wouldn't get into the parking lot,” Chris explains.

So what do you call the homeless that are moving to the suburbs?

"I call them the modern day hobos, that some are looking for adventure. Others are looking for new opportunities. Some just like the transient lifestyle,” says Bruce Spangler, Chief Operating Officer for Volunteer Ministry Center.

Officials with the City of Knoxville say the city is trying to be very progressive on how to handle the spreading homeless situation.

They're looking to come up with a 10-year plan to work with the homeless.

The goal is to put them back into society with a job and a place to live.

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  • by chris home on Jul 8, 2007 at 05:53 AM
    first pinpoint the issues the homeless have. There are people there who are mentally ill. Those are the ones you can get into facilities where they get treatment,beds,food and help them get on their feet. The ones with drug and alcohol issues would benefit from treatment centers and places to live while rehab is going on and job retraining so they can work. Then you have those who are there because of bad luck and need a boost in getting jobs and housing. That leaves those who just like the nomad type of life. They will probably resist any effort at help. The homeless population boomed when President Carter was instrumental in shutting down facilities for the mentally ill. Now their civil rights to be on the streets is being the help they get. Do I think this will help the solution of the homeless? No, it will cost too much money.
  • by Bobby Location: knoxville on Jul 8, 2007 at 02:05 AM
    Check out any of the daylabor offices in Knoxville about 5-6A. You will find many of the " homeless "there. There are very few homeless, physically and mentally healthy enough to work, that aren't willing to work " jobs no one else wants". However, minimum wage won't balance out a weeks rent, in and of its self, much less buy clothes or food. What needs rehabing is this country's understanding of what a living wage is. Perhaps, people need to try to budget their lives on $41-49 total income per day w/o overtime and see where they end up
  • by Lisa Location: Oak Ridge on Jul 7, 2007 at 06:00 PM
    The homeless/transient is unpredictable. It is a signal to the white house and state governments that government needs to implement a workforce plan for opportunity for those who want to work. But if some transient's don't want to work, they need to be made aware that their civil disobedience/rebellious atttitude is an overall threat to any neighborhood, and their lifestyle can't be ignored and should be watched closely. The transient/homeless may think they are not a danger to society, but they are not thinking reasonably. I would like to know how to fix the dilapidated thought process and help them feel that they can be a valued member of society. What were some successful plans in the past? Sharecropping in the south. The buidling of the interstate system across the U.S., the building of the Railroad. What others? What do we need to do as a community to help the transient/homeless become an effective member of our society? Oak Ridge has their share of homeless/transient people, too. Many of which are dealing in drugs and prostitution and have seen the inside of a jail cell quite often. They come back out and do the same all over again. Rehabilitation is not working for many of them. We need effective rehabilitation programs. We should contact Dr. Phil for effective implementation of rehabilitation programs. Or maybe, we can just ship them all to a deserted island somewhere.
  • by ppleasanton Location: crossville on Jul 7, 2007 at 11:48 AM
    very interesting


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