Knoxville/ Politics & Govt
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Published on April 01, 2024
Knoxville's The Foyer Shelter Set to Close as Search for New Service Provider ContinuesSource: Google Street View

As the clock ticked down on The Foyer, a low-barrier shelter catering to the unhoused, the Volunteer Ministry Center (VMC) faced the reality of its closure on March 31, with no immediate successor in sight to run the essential service. "While we value and support this kind of round-the-clock resource for the most vulnerable in our community, there is currently no organization with the capacity needed to take over operations of the shelter," Erin Read, OHS Executive Director, remarked in an update on the situation. Her words cast a somber pall over what was a beacon of hope for many.

The Joint Office of Housing Stability (OHS) has been searching for a new service provider, but their efforts have hit a dead end. Despite the setback, the VMC, in concert with the OHS, is working to coordinate alternative living situations for the 12 individuals still calling The Foyer home. These residents, caught in the tangle of the housing process, rely on the shelter as they strive towards a more permanent living situation. The assurance comes amidst preparations for the shelter's closure, announced in a statement on the city's website.

In the face of the closure, the OHS remains dedicated to supporting the needs of the homeless population, wielding data to pinpoint and implement evidence-based solutions. Meanwhile, the VMC shall continue to operate portable showers, a service buttressed by funding from both city and county coffers. Modifications such as additional lighting, security cameras, and portable bathrooms are also being rolled out to enhance the Safe Space, an alternative refuge for the homeless.

With winter approaching, emergency warming centers stand poised to open, dependent on the whims of the weather. As per the guidelines laid out by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the OHS is probing for options that satisfy the needs of the community, while syncing with governmental goals and standards. Such keys include unfettered access to shelter round-the-clock, a focus on rapid housing, and the meticulous gathering of data to inform strategic adjustments and enhance collaboration and outcomes. Despite the impending closure, the search for a provider to step into the VMC's shoes seems far from over.