UT Faculty, Students to Reach Out to Local Homeless

KNOXVILLE –- About 60 faculty and students from the University of Tennessee’s Colleges of Social Work, Nursing and Veterinary Medicine will reach out to Knoxville’s homeless community on Friday, Dec. 8.

They will work at Knoxville Project Homeless Connect, a one-day effort to link the homeless to housing, medical and dental services, veterinary services and social service agencies.

The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the old Knoxville Exhibition Center at World’s Fair Park, below the Holiday Inn on Henley Street.

Project Homeless Connect events are held across the country in an attempt to enhance access to services and break the cycle of homelessness.

The local effort — held for the first time last year — is sponsored by the City of Knoxville, Knox County, and the East Tennessee Coalition to End Homelessness (ETCEH). Knox Area Veterans Stand Down and Remote Area Medical are also partners in this year’s event.

Homeless individuals, families and veterans who come to the event will be asked to register on the Knoxville Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), a database used to record information about the homeless. The database links agencies providing services to the homeless to allow for better coordination of those services.

UT Social Work Professor David Patterson directs the Knoxville HMIS, which is operated by the College of Social Work in collaboration with ETCEH, the City of Knoxville, Knox County, United Way of Greater Knoxville and Comcast.

The College of Social Work received a $277,790 grant from HUD in July 2004 to operate HMIS for Knoxville and Knox County. A combination of federal, local, agency, and foundation dollars have continued to support it.

Patterson said about 450 homeless people came to the one-day Project Homeless Connect event in Knoxville last year. Of those about 280 were “new homeless” and were entered into the database.

In addition, about a dozen local agencies that are part of HMIS, register about 240 new homeless clients each month in the Knoxville area.

“No one is entered into HMIS without his or her permission. Most of the people registered are first-time homeless because of economic or other issues,” he said. “They seek help to eventually find homes again.”

About 20 percent of homeless individuals in the Knoxville HMIS are under 18 years old, Patterson said. About 25 percent of the homeless population, locally and nationally, is chronically homeless.

Contacts:

Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu
David A. Patterson, UT College of Social Work, (865) 974-7511, dpatter2@utk.edu