Dec 13 2018
04:20 pm
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

I haven’t yet received an answer to the letter I addressed to Mayor Rogero on October 28, 2018, regarding the whereabouts of the homeless evicted from the I-40/Broadway encampment. As an ordinary citizen, even I can answer that question: they are scattered throughout the inner neighborhoods, and can be seen pushing carts filled with their belongings on N. Broadway, N. Central, Chapman Highway, and elsewhere. In fact, I am attaching a photo taken today of two on my block in a residential neighborhood in South Knoxville.

I have also stopped by the day courtyard constructed at the I-40/Broadway site and rarely see more than a half dozen persons. Why would anyone choose to sit on cold metal furniture when they can sit on the sidewalk in the sun?

As I’ve said previously, the problem of the growing homeless population requires an emergency solution, something I don’t yet see being profferred by the city administration.


michael kaplan's picture

And that's not the worst of

And that's not the worst of it. The house next door seems to have sublet its unfinished, unheated basement to homeless who come and go 24/7.

This is not a NIMBY issue. I personally don't care who lives next door. But when the city's evacuation of a homeless camp begins to adversely affect the health and safety of neighborhoods, we may have a problem ...


michael kaplan's picture


as of 6:30 pm. called the fire department.


bizgrrl's picture

I'm sorry you're having to

I'm sorry you're having to deal with these issues.

Ann Malone's picture

I am confused

I am confused. You were outraged when those beneath the bridge were removed from a filthy environment with gravel, feces, and needles with predators and drug dealers operating freely. Yes, I go by there every day and it was horrid. Now that the area has asphalt, seating, benches, and sanitation along with social workers and security you characterize it as a place that nobody would want to go. It seems to offend you. From your posts over the past few years only thing I have been able to discern is that that you liked the way it was before because it provided a better backdrop to justify your Stalinist vision for the city. The mayor has a Roundtable on Homelessess. Perhaps you might attend and participate in an adult, grounded discussion that seeks solutions and involves stakeholders in the field.

You might want to contact the National Association of Social Workers with your criticism of her handling the homelessness situation and ask them to revoke their designation of Mayor Rogero as the 2018 Elected Official of the Year. (link...)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is pleased to announce Mayor Madeline Rogero is the NASW National Public Elected Official of the Year for making Knoxville, Tenn. a better and safer place to live, especially for at-risk populations such as people who are homeless, LGBTQ, children and young men of color.

“Mayor Rogero has devoted her life to public service and improving the conditions of others,” said NASW CEO Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW. “In these divisive political times, Mayor Rogero serves as an example to all with her compassion, stellar leadership abilities, and willingness to work with all sides to find a solution to pressing social issues.”

The NASW National Public Elected Official of the Year award recognizes outstanding service and contributions of an elected official who has shown leadership in the formulation of public policy, particularly policies that affect social justice, health care, education, civil and human rights, and the protection and advancement of social work practice.

Mayor Rogero is an ideal recipient for this award. As mayor she fostered a Roundtable on Homelessness that brings together people who are homeless, faith leaders, service providers and community officials to find reasonable solutions to homelessness in Knoxville.

michael kaplan's picture

Now that the area has

Now that the area has asphalt, seating, benches, and sanitation along with social workers and security you characterize it as a place that nobody would want to go.

My question to the Mayor was simple: where are the displaced now sleeping?

The fact of the courtyard is: it's not being used (see attached - yesterday at noon). Why not?


michael kaplan's picture

some background

michael kaplan's picture

"Knoxville Area Rescue

"Knoxville Area Rescue Ministry CEO Burt Rosen said some of the city’s homeless and others under the bridge (they’re not all homeless, he said) have seemingly scattered because of the safe space, pushing them further away from services that were near the bridge. Some of these people were predators who have found other locations and other prey, Rosen said, while others have just found new places to go."

Up Goose Creek's picture

We have met the enemy

We have met the enemy and it is us.

In the last discussion someone asked Michael how long he would allow homeless people in his back yard. At the time my thought was if they were in the underbrush of the vacant lot he might not even know they were there. Now the displaced are almost literally in his yard. Pretty ironic.

So what is better, or should we say less bad - an open underpass or an enclosed basement?

Who made the decision to shut down the Greystone apartments or the Parkway hotel which is a few blocks from the scene in the picture. Someone said we should have housing to ____ standard or none at all. And none is what these people got.

michael kaplan's picture

Who made the decision to shut

Who made the decision to shut down the Greystone apartments or the Parkway hotel

Dr. Nooe made the comment in one of his homeless studies that one of the main reasons for homelessness was the unavailability of very low-cost housing, what some used to call 'rooming houses.'

The question of 'standards' in emergency situations is an interesting and important one. One of the West Coast cities established a roof and walls as a minimum standard - i.e. a dry, protected place to sleep. No electricity, water or sewage, all of which would be provided in common facilities. Heat is not a major issue on the West Coast.

How to deal with the mentally ill, physically ill, and disabled is another question entirely. I believe Dr. Nooe is dealing with this issue on a daily basis.

fischbobber's picture

Clinton Highway

I'll take your query at face value and note that the rental lots for semi truck trailers have seen quite the uptick in homeless use this year. Local trucking companies have had to seal their trailers to keep the homeless from setting up camps inside them.

Up Goose Creek's picture

Very low cost housing

The question of 'standards' in emergency situations is an interesting and important one. One of the West Coast cities established a roof and walls as a minimum standard - i.e. a dry, protected place to sleep. No electricity, water or sewage, all of which would be provided in common facilities. Heat is not a major issue on the West Coast.

Electricity would not add much to the cost of such a structure. Plumbing is the big cost, but aren't there portable buildings with toilet and shower facilities? With volunteer labor for insulating and finishing the interior housing could be provided for 8-10 people for the cost of one of the "affordable housing" units reported in the News-sentinel today. Are churches willing to take on providing such communities? I know the government couldn't be involved, what about charitable organizations.

The key would be to consider them "Temporary Supportive housing" with licenses that are renewed every 2 years so if the residents aren't good neighbors they can be closed. A case worker component could be required, perhaps even someone on site keeping an eye on things.

michael kaplan's picture

Some good ideas here.

Some good ideas here. Frankly, I don't see the city/county thinking outside the box. Homeslessness in the US stands at around 0.5% of the population, or 1 in 200 people. With an economic downturn, this number could surge. Is this not a matter as urgent as 'the border' or 'Iran'?

sobi's picture

Once upon a time,...

...Michael, certain persons in this community advocated for a thing called "permanent supportive housing." They said that it would help, lots, with this issue. They said it could be developed and people who now crouch in the bushes contemplating the ferality of their existences could live in it, at lower cost and with less disruption in the wild than is currently observable. That idea was, as you suggest, "out of the box," but people didn't like it very much. In spite of the fact that it's proven to be effective and helpful. In our very community to boot. I seem to recall that you yourself had objections to it, some of them presented here between weirdly unappetizing pics of what you were eating at various times, but it's good to see you now advocating for the provision of temporary housing for the homeless in substandard structures. That looks like movement in a good direction to me, and I applaud your continuing evolution. Lots of good ideas here. Yes. Lots.

michael kaplan's picture

The problem with "permanent

The problem with "permanent supportive housing" was - and is - that it's coming in at some $120,000 per unit, and the units are something like 300-400 s.f. Flennekin and Minvilla are fine projects but, as budgeted, cannot begin to answer to what seems to be an emergency need. I stated this at the earliest stages of the "housing first" project (in the Haslam administration).

Up Goose Creek's picture

Supportive housing

As a volunteer for FISH food deliveries I frequently take food to the (former) Townview towers. I frequently see people who don't meet the elderly guidelines and I understand this is a site for supportive housing. So it's not like we as a community stopped at the two $$$ renovation projects mentioned.

BTW, I'm the one who proposed temporary housing in substandard structures. If you want to gripe about that you should address your complaint to me.

I never post pictures of food so you'll have to choose a different ad hominem attack in my case.

sobi's picture


I was picking on Michael because he was complimentary of your ideas, which are not really very good at all. Michael's trained to think about buildings and what they are for, so he should know better.

Why are your ideas bad? Because positioning this whole enduring fiasco as an emergency is boneheaded. Said fiasco's been decades in the making, and could long ago have been mitigated, not to say cured, by steadily applying proven housing models and service delivery based on that ol' evidence. Or you can put people up in pavilions and rehabbed tool sheds and spend your spare time online, congratulating yourself on how good your ideas are. That way, you can keep kicking the can down the road so you can keep calling it an "emergency."

So, to get back to what seems most important to you: there not an ad hominem bone in muh body. You are probably a great person. Michael might be, too. Your ideas, and Kaplan's assent, as expressed in this thread and elsewhere, are what I don't like. That and those food pics.

Up Goose Creek's picture


I delayed my response until I had a chance to speak with my formerly homeless renter. I asked him if he thought homeless people would prefer a converted shed to living under the interstate. "Heck yes: anything is better than living out in the open!" They wouldn't mind a communal bathhouse. But as the conversation moved on he allowed that the homeless people he encountered wouldn't take care of the structures and they would go to h*##. He had formerly lived in and industrial part of Lonsdale where the homeless were squatting in an adjoining warehouse, he'd let them in to use the facilities and eventually felt run out of his apartment.

spend your spare time online, congratulating yourself on how good your ideas are.

Where did I claim these were my own ideas. I've read of such compounds on the west coast and wondered how they would work here. I think to be successful they would need on-site counselors. I don't claim to be a mental health expert. I'm also wondering where you expect the funding will come from for the institutions you seek. This is a regional and national problem. We have a libertarian county mayor, a conservative governor and %$#& for a president. But then again I heard the war planes flying home the other night. Swords into plowshares and the $$ could be available. But how many homeless people would agree to a structured living environment?


And Jeez, where do you get off blasting people on how they spend their spare time. It feels pompous. In case you are wondering I've been reading a delightful book called "Cabin Porn" edited by Zach Klein. 317 pages and I doubt that more than a very few of the structures meet any kind of code.

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