KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- After growing concerns over homelessness in the Model City- city leaders revealed a plan that combines increasing security while also helping people who don’t have a place to call home.
“Our marching orders are moving forward with a social worker, assisting in forming the coalition and then focusing on code issues,” said city manager Chris McCartt at Tuesday night’s Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting.
Concerns about homeless have gotten to the point that Kingsport Police Chief David Quillen even traveled to Colorado Springs to learn how that city has made progress.
“There’s a lot of work that’s been going on behind the scenes, we have been having internal discussions for the last several months,” said Quillen.
Quillen told the BMA – his department already is taking action.
“We have increased our part-time bike patrols downtown and our downtown foot patrols,” said Quillen.
Right now- overnight patrols have already increased in areas like Glen Bruce Park because of curfew violations.
And he spelled out long-term goals that include the city possibly hiring social workers and adding blue light phones as safety features downtown.
He is also exploring the use of trespass sensors around the public library.
But Will Shewey- the pastor of Shades of Grace, a downtown Kingsport homeless ministry, says that he hasn’t necessarily seen an increase in those who walk through their doors.
“I think its just a renewed awareness actually of the problem of homelessness. We’re not seeing any major shift in the numbers of people that are here, we basically are serving just about the same number of persons as we did five years ago” said Shewey.
Shewey says that he has been a part of the conversation to form the coalition.
“We want to be a person at the table who can offer from our perspective some good positive advice and maybe just help the people to understand that for every statistic of homelessness, there is a story,” says Shewey.
A story that he hopes will bring greater good for the city of Kingsport.
“I think it will begin to bring us together in a way that in our own individual ways, we can begin to make a difference,” said Shewey.