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Efforts continue to find low-barrier shelter provider
March 28, 2024, 1:53 p.m.

KNOXVILLE - Efforts continue to find low-barrier shelter provider as Volunteer Ministry Center’s Foyer is set to close.

The Joint Office of Housing Stability (OHS) has been actively looking for a service provider who is able to take over operations of the low-barrier shelter for its unhoused citizens at the Foyer. There is currently no organization with the capacity needed to take over operations of the shelter. As a result, the shelter will close March 31st.

Volunteer Ministry Center (VMC) is working to coordinate alternative living situations for the roughly 12 individuals currently utilizing the Foyer to have shelter as they work through the process of finding housing.

OHS is committed to serving the needs of our vulnerable unhoused population and will continue to utilize data to identify evidence-based solutions to provide services where they are most needed.

As of right now:
• VMC is coordinating services for those currently in The Foyer.
• VMC will continue to operate portable showers through support from the City and the County.
• The Safe Space is getting additional lighting, security cameras and portable bathrooms.
• Emergency warming centers will open as weather conditions dictate.

The OHS will continue to explore options to fill the needs of our community that align with local goals as well as federal agency goals and standards. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has established five keys for operating effective low-barrier shelters:

• Immediate, Low Barrier Access – Ensure open space 24/7; eliminate sobriety, income, employment or housing process requirements.
• Focus on Housing – No prerequisites to enter shelter or receive services toward housing.
• Safe, Appropriate Housing Options – Offer shelter services focused on alternative housing options through discussions, community supports and lighter touch solutions.
• Rapid-Exit Services – Shelter services with permanent housing ASAP.
• Data Measurement – Metrics that support changes to systems, processes, collaborations and outcomes.

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