Volunteers and staff at Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) are fluffing
pillows and placing blankets and sheets on beds as they prepare for the influx
of people looking for a warm place to lay their head as temperatures in the
Mychal Spence, KARM's Chaplain, said, "Last night we had 340 total
people in the building. And that's women and men together." Spence
also said, "We don't turn anybody away. We're not going to let anyone
freeze who we know about."
As temperatures continue to fall, KARM is expecting to house up to 100
additional people who want to get out of the frigid temperatures. Those people
are a part of the city's up and down homeless population.
Spence said, "We're seeing a trend of a lot of mental people. [They
are] people who have some real difficulties dealing with their issues."
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said, "We're not ever going to solve
[the homeless situation] in this country until we address the mental health
There was a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness in Knoxville and Knox
County, but Mayor Burchett said it failed because of a lack of accountability.
Still, Mayor Burchett said there are plenty of organizations, like KARM,
willing to take in those who are homeless. Those places are not only keeping
peoples' bodies warm, but also warming their hearts.
Spence said, "When they come in they know they're going to be greeted
with a smile, a good warm meal, and a great place to stay."
KARM recently expanded their women's shelter from 40 beds to 103 beds, but
the rescue ministry said they will pull out mats if they must in order to make
sure no one is literally left out in the cold.