Housing solves homelessness

Sandra ClarkEast Knox, Our Town Neighbors

Great program Monday at Town Hall East. A panel spoke on Knoxville homelessness: Causes, complications and solutions.

Shawn Griffith is the city’s go-to guy on the topic. He quoted Police Chief Paul Noel who says, “We can’t arrest ourselves out of homelessness.” Griffith said: “Housing solves homelessness.”

The recent surge in property values has pushed previously housed people into the streets. Renters account for 34% of the state’s total households. That’s a bit higher in Knox County – 36%. “And every time rent increases by $100/month, that means a 9% increase in our homeless population,” Griffith said.

Low-wage earners are hardest hit. To keep housing costs at 30% or less of income:

  • A minimum wage ($7.25/hour) worker could afford monthly rent of $377.
  • A worker at Knoxville’s estimated mean renter wage ($14.05/hour) could afford rent of $730.
  • A person on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at $794/month could afford rent of $238/month.

This chart demonstrates “affordable housing.” People ask what that means, Griffith said, but what’s affordable for you depends on how much you earn.

Much more information was presented and spirited Q&A sparked emotions ranging from anger to fear. Tomorrow we’ll hear from KPD Sgt. Thomas Clinton. He oversees the city’s law enforcement response to homelessness. His department? Himself and one officer.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.