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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