Background: The Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness
The Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness (TYP) in Knoxville and Knox County is part of a national movement to end long-term or chronic homelessness. A person who is chronically homeless is, by HUD’s definition, a disabled individual who has been homeless for at least one year or who has had four episodes of homelessness in the last three years. Another perspective: People who are chronically homeless struggle with some disabling condition, whether it be mental, physical, or related to addiction, and lack the resources with which to address their issues. We always find homelessness where mental illness and addiction meet poverty. The TYP offers a long-range, comprehensive approach to ending homelessness, a key part of which is helping homeless people gain stability in permanent supportive housing (PSH).
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Characteristics
PSH offers residents permanent rental housing set up for independent living (an apartment), and then surrounds them with the social services they require in order to stay in their housing.
- A PSH development is not a mental institution, an emergency shelter, a halfway house, or transitional housing.
- PSH residents sign a lease, pay rent, and can stay as long as they need/want to and as long as they abide by the terms of their lease agreements, just like residents of any other longterm rental housing.
- PSH saves money. It costs the community much less to house someone in PSH than it costs to leave them in a state of chronic homelessness because PSH residents consume far fewer emergency services. Dr. Roger Nooe’s 2006 study Local Cost Estimates (Knoxville, Tennessee) found that a chronically homeless person costs our community an average of over $40,000 per year. We are still gathering data on costs, but we believe that an average PSH resident would cost our community less than half that amount.
The Teaberry Housing Development
Teaberry Housing is a proposed 48-unit permanent supportive housing development for men and women who are chronically homeless. The development is in its very earliest stages. An architect has not yet been engaged and no design work has been completed, so the following description is general in nature.
- Teaberry will be owned and operated by Southeastern Housing Foundation, a nonprofit affordable housing developer in Knoxville. Development will be funded by a mix of tax credit equity and various grants. The developer will contract with a professional property management firm with experience in affordable housing, and case management programming will be carried out by Volunteer Ministry Center.
- Teaberry’s facility will include a number of the physical attributes necessary to any permanent supportive housing development. These attributes contribute to a safe, secure, and healthy living environment.
- Safety and security are vital to residents, case managers, and the community. Teaberry residents will be very low-income, and will likely need HUD Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers. KCDC must do certain kinds of background investigations on applicants for these vouchers, and cannot grant them to people who have been convicted of violent felonies, certain kinds of drug offenses, or sex offenders. If a prospective resident does not plan to use a voucher, the owner/developer of Teaberry (Southeastern Housing Foundation) will conduct background investigations to the same standard as KCDC’s.
- Teaberry will feature a common entry with controlled access. The property will include offices for a property manager, office space for case managers, laundry facilities, common-area bathrooms, and ample community space.
- The development will be quality new construction and will consist of 48 one-bedroom units, each including its own private kitchen and bath. The structure will probably be two stories in height, with a brick and/or Hardie siding exterior.